2nd day back in Hong Kong

We woke up early and ate our first semi-American meal–continental breakfast at the hotel. We were on the MTR by about 9 heading to Tung Chung, an island out near the airport. Our plan was to take the cable car up the mountain to Ngong Ping Monastery, but sadly they were closed for maintenance. We took a bus instead, which turned out to be quite an adventure. We drove up winding, mountain roads past lots of cool little villages. At one point we were positive that the bus wasn’t going to make it up the steep climb. We couldn’t help but whisper, “I think I can, I think I can,” as we slowly but surely made the climb. We finally made it up the mountain and had a blast exploring the monastery and climbing the steps up to Big Buddha. This was my third time up there, but I had so much fun watching Brady see everything for the first time. He loved the ornateness of the temples and all of the symbolism behind everything. I taught him about Buddhism and we reverently watched the Chinese worship their ancestors. I think Brady had an Asian overload, because he made us stop at the gift shop on the way out to buy Pringles and Diet Coke… What an American!

We rode the bus back down the mountain then headed to my first area–Kwai Chung. Brady couldn’t believe how tall the apartment buildings were. He kept complaining about the smells of fish and cigarette smoke. Is it bad that those smells don’t even phase me anymore? We shopped at the dirty mall and tried little bites of all of my favorite foods– Yoshinoya rice bowls ($3 USD), freshly blended pineapple juice ($0.75 USD), BBQ pork rolled in sticky rice and seaweed ($1 USD), and then an ice cream cone for American Brady ($1.25 USD). I bought five shirts and one dress for about $30 USD. Oh how I have missed Hong Kong shopping! Brady made up a game to pass the time while I shopped called “Who can find the ugliest t-shirt?” We laughed and laughed at the terrible English phrases that Chinese people put on their t-shirts. My personal favorite was, “Wyoming… Looks…” What? Brady liked the one that read, “Hey don’t like you but they will cheching you page religiously.”

IMG_5430After shopping we met up with my favorite girl from my first area, Vina! She was our little tour guide for the evening. We went to my favorite noodle shop and had Syun Laaht with cabbage and pork belly. Vina and I laughed hysterically as we watched Brady to figure out the ancient Chinese art of noodle eating. After dinner we walked around the city and watched the light show across the harbor. It was so good to see Vina again! Her English has gotten so good and she is planning to go to BYU Hawaii next Fall. I am so proud of her.

Brady and I were exhausted tonight, so we went up to the rooftop jacuzzi to relax and enjoy the city view. I am so happy that he is here with me. Showing him around my city and having him meet all of my favorite people has been even more fun than I expected.

Back in Hong Kong! (Day 1)

I feel like I am in a dream! We jumped off the plane and right onto the MTR. I didn’t even realize how many things I had missed until I got here–the strange smells, bright colors, and even just the familiar sounds Cantonese.

IMG_1861Brady couldn’t believe the crowds and the speed of the escalators. We dropped our bags at the Sheraton then went right back out to meet some people for dinner. I was proud of myself for remembering which mini bus to take and how to tell the driver where to let us off.

I can’t begin to explain how happy I was to see my converts and to hear about how active they still are. I was a very proud RM tonight.

Brady was hilarious at dinner–the crew definitely picked on him for being the new guy. He ate fish and clams and lots of new Chinese vegetables. He even tried a real Chinese dessert made with condensed milk and some green plant that I don’t know how to say in English. I had a blast watching everyone interact with him. They were teaching each other phrases in their respective languages and trying their best to communicate. I was loving being the translator all night. My Chinese has definitely suffered from being put on hold for almost two years, but it’s coming back quickly.

We stopped at the temple and the mission home on the way back to the hotel. I can’t help but think back to all the nights I wished so badly that I could tell Brady all about the city and the people that I had grown to love so much. It is a dream come true to finally share Hong Kong with him.

Mary

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The proposal

August 29, 2014

School started at BYU on September 1. The Friday before, Brady and I took a drive up Provo Canyon. The conversation was so easy and I just felt lucky to be riding shotgun with such an incredible man. I thought we were going to Park City but as we drove by the area where we had our first date Brady said “Hey we’re a few minutes ahead of schedule. Do you want to pull over and see where we had our first date?” It didn’t strike me that he was up to something.

We got out of the car and Brady held my hand while we walked down a windy path. Brady’s hand was sweaty. I thought that was weird, but I shook it off. Then he said, “Hey I think that bag has your name on it!” A little way’s down the path was a big bag and a trail of items with little cards on them. A possible proposal crossed my mind, but I pushed it out quickly with two excuses: 1. Brady is a hopeless romantic and does cheesy stuff like this all the time, and 2. We don’t even have a ring yet!

The closer we got to the trail, the harder I tried to deny it, the sweater Brady’s hand got and the more I started to accept the fact that Brady was about to ask me to marry him. The whole idea was adorable. It was themed after Andy Grammer’s song “Build Me a Girl.” (Brady brought me to an Andy Grammer concert on our one-month anniversary and we always listened to his music together.) The lyrics are about a man in heaven talking with God, telling him everything he wants in a girl. Brady changed the words to be about me and every item on the trail represented something he loves about me. He was shaking by the end of the trail and so was I. I’m pretty sure my heart actually stopped beating when he got down on one knee. I don’t remember hardly anything he said, but I remember exactly my feelings: surety. I felt absolute surety and not a single ounce of doubt. I didn’t even have to think about it when he asked the famous question, “Will you marry me?” I said yes, he picked me up and spun me around and my brother, Sam, and Brady’s sister, Shardae, came out of the bushes. I wore my grandma’s ring until mine was ready.

Last email!

July 28, 2014

First things first… Happy birthday this week to my Salmon [Sam] stud!!! How in the world is it already time for you to be an adult?! I love you Sam! Let’s be fake adults together and wear hoodie-footies and fly everyday when I get back okay?!

I <3 HK!

I ❤ HK

My heart is completely overflowing today I don’t even know where to begin! Yesterday was about as perfect to a finale as it gets. It felt like the culmination of weeks and months and years of so many people’s faith, prayers, and hard work. Everything was perfect! A-Tin, Ann, Chan PohPo, Ng Jimuih, and Lauh Dai all entered the waters of baptism yesterday and it could not have been a happier day for all the missionaries, ward members, their families and everyone involved. I felt like the luckiest missionary in the whole world to be there for it all, but none of it felt like mine. The Lord is very much aware of and involved in His work. We are just the instruments!

I think the biggest miracle the day was that everyone made it under in just one try. We were so nervous about the pohpo going under, because her knees are so old and hardly bend anymore and every time we practiced she would just drop into a ball on the ground and call it good. The ward decided that the only solution was to get the two tallest guys in our ward (which probably amounts to the shortest guys in America) in the font with her and dunk her. And I mean dunk in every literal sense of the word. She resisted a little at the end right before her head went under and then as soon as she popped back up out of the water she yelled out, “Gah! I think I just swallowed a little bit of it! Is that bad?! I think I swallowed some!” We were crying laughing, half because of how funny it was but mostly because of how happy we were. Everyone one else went under no problem! I love this work!!!

It has been a week of bittersweets and I have a feeling this coming week will be even more of them. Lots of pictures and goodbyes, trunky teasing from all the other missionaries, and lots of praying and trying to work harder than I ever have to stay focused and find new people to teach! There just isn’t enough time! But I am so forever grateful for the time I had here. It means more to me than I will ever be able to say. Eighteen months ago I never could have imagined myself on a mission. Now standing at the end looking back I can’t imagine my life without my mission. It meant everything. I saw far more miracles than I deserved, made lifelong best friends, saw people’s and families’ lives change through accepting the restored gospel, fell in love with a culture and a people about as opposite from my own as it can get, but most importantly, out here is where I came to know my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know He lives. I can say that now with full conviction and truly mean it. I know that because of His Atonement we can be happy no matter what life throws at us. I know that families can be together forever and I want nothing more than to have that someday, soon. I love my mission, but more than that I love my family and the people waiting for me at home, and that is the only thing that will ever make leaving here any easier. The theme scripture for my mission was that you have to lose your life for the Lord’s sake to find it and I think that is exactly what happened here. When we make sacrifices for good we get more in return. I feel more blessed and excited about the future than I ever have before! I know what Heavenly Father expects from me and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life trying to be that. I know that this is the Lord’s work. I know that we are loved beyond comprehension by a God who understands us better than we understand ourselves. I can’t thank you all enough for getting me out here and getting me through it. I hope I will come back better and make it worth it for all of us! I love you and I will see you soon! Ready or not here I come.

OK Bai bai,

Sister Moody

Five baptisms scheduled!

July 21, 2014

I don’t know which poured harder this week, the rain or the miracles! We have been so insanely blessed this week! With two summer missionaries in our area, we have split into two companionships and now we are seeing twice the blessings. We can see twice as many people, and find twice as many new investigators; it’s awesome. This is the busiest I have been my entire mission and it couldn’t have come at a better time! We taught over 40 lessons this week and also found some amazing new investigators on the street. But the big news of the week is that our ward is having five baptisms this Sunday! Every single one of our investigators with baptismal dates for July 27th passed their interview, met with the bishop, overcame some huge obstacles, and are now looking forward to their fresh start this weekend! Three of the five are from part-member families, but none of them are related. Our ward is acting like this is the event of the century. Haha! I’ve never seen them more excited before. There is an incredible spirit in the area right now. Please pray for Ng Jimuih, Chan Jimuih, A-Ann, Lauh Daih, and A-Tin that everything goes well and they will go through with their baptisms this Sunday!

I learned a huge lesson this week about praying with faith. I am more sure than I’ve ever been that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. Each and every one of those five I just mentioned had a trial come up this week that threatened their baptism. Satan always does that just before we do something really good. The deciding factor wasn’t whether or not their trial would come, we knew it would and we warned them it would. The deciding factor was how we responded to the trials: with faith or with fear? We chose faith; our investigators chose faith; we were all on our knees for a large majority of the week praying for a miracle, and then those miracles really came! Everything worked out perfectly and I saw the Lord’s hand in each of their lives. It was a huge testimony builder for me and I am so, so happy to be here and really excited for all the success we are seeing!

I am certain that this is the Lord’s work. When we choose to be His instrument He makes us better than we are on our own. I don’t need to mention how much time I have left because you guys are keeping way better track of it than I am. Haha But I admit I am starting to feel the urgency to sprint to the end. Everyone here is starting to treat me like I’m terminally ill or something. Sometimes I’ll feel like someone’s watching me and look over to find one of them just staring at me with this sad look in their eyes like I’m dying. Weirdos! I mean I guess there are perks too, though. Way more hugs and compliments than usual. Haha. Everyone is being weirdly, unusually nice to me these last couple of weeks! I’m just trying to serve like I’ll be here forever.

I love you all more than you know! Have another wonderful week.

Sister Moody

Stella!!!

July 14, 2014

Hi hi hi!

Here’s to another incredibly fast, miracle-filled week! Weeks are passing like days now; it’s crazy. I’ve never felt so much bittersweet in my whole life! Our investigators are doing well and our ward is so looking forward to the last Sunday in July. If everything goes right we should have a handful of baptisms that day! We are still holding out for some last few miracles we need to make it happen, but Heavenly Father is being so good to us lately. I feel blessed beyond measure to still be here! It’s a special time for our mission and an especially special time for the area.

Sister Cheung and I went shopping together in Mong Kok. We had so much fun together!

Shopping in Mong Kok with Sister Cheung

Shopping in Mong Kok with Sister Cheung

We had a 65th anniversary celebration of the Church in Hong Kong reunion in Wan Chai! It was supposed to be on the Victoria Peak but they didn’t permission so we did it in Wan Chai instead. Sister Cheung and I got to see all the Relief Society ladies from Hung Shui Kiu we got a photo together. We miss them very much!

Wan Chai reunion

Hung Shui Kiu reunion in Wan Chai

A few changes happened this morning, and I have a new companion for the next two weeks! We were a few of the lucky ones to get summer missionaries in our area! Two adorable 16-year-olds from Hong Kong will split with Sister Probst and me for the next two weeks so that we can have double the work load, double the miracles and double the success! It really was an answer to our prayers. We have been so busy trying to fit everything into our schedule and now we get to sort of double-team it for a while. Sister Leung and Sister Tung will live with us, wear name tags, and live the complete missionary life for two weeks. We’re stoked! They are both so fired up and so willing to work and do whatever needs to be done. So we’re ready to see some things explode soon.

I got the chance to go on exchanges with my MTC companion, Sister Berry, this week and it was a dream! It was such a cool experience to serve together for a day, look back on how far we have come and look ahead to see how much further we still have to go. Everyone was right when they said Satan doesn’t quit at the end. I’m shocked at the thoughts of inadequacy and of home. I struggle to be convinced that my service wasn’t enough, that my language skills are where they should be, and that I’m just a lifeless robot missionary. Sister Berry and I realized that the end of our missions is not the final product. Becoming like the Savior is a lifetime endeavor, not an 18-month one. This time here is just the gutting out part. It’s the process of opening us up and teaching us everything we need to change, giving us the tools to change it, and then sending us on our way to do it! I am so grateful for the people Heavenly Father gave me to spend forever with to help me make the changes I need to. Too many people have the misconception that this is the end, but it’s not. It’s just another stepping stone to eternity!

Random piece of news that probably means nothing to any of you… Stella got married! She is the Hong Konger that has an “I’m a Mormon” message video. We watched her video basically every single day in the MTC and she was like a celebrity to us, then she was in my first ward here in Hong Kong, and then we all stalked her on Saturday when she had her reception at our chapel! I’ll send the creepy stalker pictures next week; I forgot my camera today.

That’s a weird note to end on but no more time! Haha. My emails are getting progressively worse, so sorry ‘bout that. I love you all and hope you have a great week! BAi BAi!

Sister Moody

The Star Thrower

July 7, 2014

Hi! Whew, I’m sleepy. We had a good, full week. Busy busy! Most of it was Mission Leaders Conference, planning, meetings, giving trainings, stuff for the zone. The first week of the month is always like that. It will be nice to have our schedule opened back up this week so we can get out and work hard!

The highlight of the week was definitely our zone trip to the temple! We filled up a whole session that they did especially for us to see the new film…in English! Haha. That’s always a treat, hearing things in your mother tongue. It honestly was one of the most incredible, spiritual experiences of my whole mission and my whole life. I got real answers in the temple, like always, and it was exactly the boost we all needed to kick off July!

Temple trip!

Temple trip!

Other things that happened this week:

  • I ashamed my country and got my butt kicked by a lil’ Asian girl in a hot dog eating competition;
  • Spent almost an entire P-day making a Transformer costume with the zone leaders for our zone meeting;
  • Taught a group of Chinese kids how to play kickball (they didn’t get it even after like 15 minutes of explanation and half an hour of playing…so sad); and
  • Got kissed on the head by a pohpo.

Our investigators are doing well; we had lots of people at church yesterday; everyone is so looking forward to all the miracles we are going to see this month; and we are soaking up the sun here in Sham Shui Po! Things couldn’t be better. We are two very happy sister missionaries.

Sister Wu wanted in on Brady's package

Sister Wu wanted in on Brady’s package

Sometimes my mission reminds me of The Star Thrower.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,

“It made a difference for that one.”

(Loren Eiseley, The Star Thrower [New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1978].)

Sometimes I look around at the crowds of people on the street, 40-story apartments buildings as far as the eye can see, and the packed subway trains and think to myself that there are millions of people in this big city and so far I have helped only a handful of them accept the restored gospel and be baptized. It may not seem like our missionary efforts are enough to even put a dent in things, but then I think about what it means for those few that I got to see accept it. For them, it means everything. And to Heavenly Father it means everything, because that is one more of His children that He gets back forever. As small as my part is in this big, huge plan of life I’m just grateful I get to be here. Our efforts are being recorded in heaven! I know that. I know that everything I teach about out here is true. I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week! Go save those lil’ starfish!

Sister Moody

Dancing the tango to the Love Theme from Godfather

June 30, 2014

Hi hi hi! Wow we had a FEISEUHNGJIHOU week here!!!! I used to think that a mission would get boring because you just do the same thing everyday over and over again, but I mean it when I say that it just keeps getting better and better every week! If you just go through the motions then of course it’s boring, but when you’re really here and teach people like people, then every lesson and is different and every hour is exciting (almost…sometimes language study feels like detention) and everyday is a miracle.

Ran into a summer missionary I served with one year ago! Where has the time gone?!

Ran into a summer missionary I served with one year ago! Where has the time gone?!

Our key investigators are doing great and we also found a few new, extremely prepared people this week! They were like finding treasure! We had some of the coolest street lessons of my entire mission this week. People that were just placed so perfectly in our path and we were able to apply everything we’ve been learning and have some incredible spiritual experiences with them. I’m realizing now that I’m to the point in my mission where most of the people we find now are for whatever punk missionary replaces me once I’m gone, but I don’t even care! It doesn’t matter who plants and who harvests, it just feels really good to be part of it all. Okay and random—Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Seventy watched us find one of those really prepared people yesterday! We were leaving the church yesterday evening after a lesson and ran into Elder Gong and his family. We said hi, left, then I stopped this lady right outside of the church gates and we were standing there talking to her for a while. She was such a miracle. Like it was just absolutely perfect timing and she was walking home a way she had never walked before and contemplating religion for her son at that very moment I stopped her and she cried when we testified of the Book of Mormon and we’re going to see her again on Tuesday. Just perfect. But anyway, we get a text from President Hawks last night and he was like, “I just got a really cool picture from Elder Gong of the two of you teaching a woman outside of the church gates today! He was so impressed with you and I just wanted to thank you for your hard work!” What?! Haha. We were so insta-nervous that a General Authority was watching us in action, because we seriously had no idea! But at least now President knows we’re not lying when we say we saw miracles this week.

Pohpo picture of the week...

Pohpo picture of the week…

Ng Jimuih is looking so solid for her July baptism. She believes in God now!!! We couldn’t believe it! All it took were the basics—reading the Book of Mormon, praying everyday, and going to church every week. Her answer came so quickly and with a power she couldn’t deny. She has a new conviction now and teaching her is just such a joy! Ann is also looking good for this month. A few others are on the fence and a handful of others won’t happen until the end of summer after I’m gone, but there is a spirit of faith and enthusiasm permeating throughout the entire mission and it is such a fun time to be here! I’m so grateful for everyday left.

Funny story. So we’re finding in the park one afternoon and we see an older woman in a white dress sitting alone on a bench. We go over to talk to her and then the rest happened all in one giant blur. One minute we’re sharing a message about the Book of Mormon with her, the next minute she is dancing a slow tango for us to the “Love Theme” from Godfather, the next minute we’re in her house watching her draw a picture of Jesus and sawing the padlock off of her kitchen because she accidentally locked herself out of her own kitchen and then lost the key, and then the next minute we’re back at our flat and that picture of Jesus is hanging above my desk! It was the strangest series of events and one of those “only in Hong Kong” kind of moments.

I am truly happy here. I was trying to think about why missionaries are so happy when we’re so far away from the people we love, living in a strange place and eating strange food and speaking this strange language, and then I found my answer. President George Albert Smith said, “Every blessing we enjoy is the result of keeping the commandments of God. Every blessing we desire we must obtain on those same terms.” I know that is true now. We are only truly happy when we are doing what the Lord wants us to do. I love you all and am grateful everyday for your examples of how to live a good, happy life! Have another great week!

Sister Moody