Monday, October 26, 2015

AHHH I'M IN CHINA!!! (First email from China)

Hello friends and family.
   Well here I am. I'll just jump straight in. After our 24= hours of traveling we arrived in Hong Kong. We got our luggage and got through customs. Then we were greeted by the Assistants to the President AP's. Two were from the UK and the other was from the USA. We took a picture with the president and loaded the bags into two huge vans. However there was not enough room so the AP's took us to a bus station where they handed us some fliers and said "pass these out on the bus" So we all made an attempt on the 20 min ride to the temple and Patron Housing in Kowloon Tong. My attempt was in vain. Then we got off and spent the night in the smallest room I have ever slept in. It was about the size of a large bathroom with 8 beds in it and all of which were full. We had some natives with us in our room so we made an attempt at talking to a few of them to no avail.
  The next few days were spent receiving additional training. Then we were assigned our senior companions and our propositioning areas. My area is called Ngau Tau Gok. If you look at it on a subway map it is between Kowloon bay and Kwun tong. My companions name is Elder Phung. He is from California but he grew up speaking Cantonese at home so his Chinese is incredible. Mine is awful. By some grace of God most people can Kinda understand me. For those of you who understand mission lingo I am Brother Smiths (Half Korean Guy) grandson. Anyway on my first day we had 2 teaching appointments. The first guy did not show up which was both sad and reliving. Then we taught a Woman and her son. I still can't get over how small every one's house is. If you're in the US and your house feels too small just clean it and throw way a lot of stuff you don't need it, then your house will feel HUGE. 
   My Grandfather (Grandpa R. Michael Walker) served in Taiwan and his name was 伍 which sounds like wu in Mandarin. However in Cantonese it sounds like mh. look up some one counting in Chinese when they say 5 that's my name. Cool. 
   Ok a little about our apartment. The floor space is about as large as a normal high school classroom. but with two rooms one is an office and the other is a bedroom and an office. We live in Kwun Tong on the 7th floor. And it cost the Church in US money... that's right  one Million Dollars. Crazy.
  The weather here is hot and Humid about 87 degrees and  85% humidity. We are required to wear our suits when we go out... until April. I Have one dark Black suit. I'm pretty sure that it is going to die. Luckily there are lots of places to get suits really cheep. we are also only allowed 10 hours of AC a day so we use it at night in the bed room so we can sleep. 
  Walking down the street is incredible everyone walks FAST and if someone is in your way you just nudge them. Lots of people do silly things when they walk near us. It is funny. Sometimes they pick up their kids and run and sometimes they just cover their face. Once we were street contacting and I opened my black case that we carry around to protect the pamphlets and Books of Mormon we give out and it showed the Book of Mormon and he just turned around and started running. Very funny.
   My German also came in handy that was nice. I saw a Chinese lady with a shirt that said DEUTSCHLAND on it so I started talking in German and we chatted for a while. We teach English classes on Wednesday nights for adults so I told her that if she came I could help her with her German. 
   So we were supposed to meet with President Nelson of the 12 but after he landed a boat hit the bridge that connects the airport to Hong Kong so he couldn't come. Massive bummer. 
   For this weeks Chinese oops: the words for chat and menstruate are kinda close to each other so when I called the bishop I said "Hey would it be ok of we come over so I can introduce myself and menstruate." the conversation then turned to English. 
 Love you all,
Elder Walker

OK pictures time!

Last meal in the USA

Our gate

cramped patron housing

Waiting for an investigator to show up

We teach a guy and this is his view

a different zoom
The view out of our apartment

Another view out of our apartment


The main room

The bedroom

Saturday, October 24, 2015

First pictures posted from Hong Kong!

Mom "talking" here....

My heart is so full today!  We followed Elder Walker's airplane online so we knew it landed safely in Hong Kong but we haven't heard a thing from him or his new Mission President. 

Today, President Lam and his wife posted some pictures and a short video of some of the brand new elders being assigned to their trainers or their more experienced companions that will help to train them and get them settled in Hong Kong.

We still do not know where exactly in Hong Kong he's been sent but I'm sure we will find out soon enough.

We may not get a letter from Elder Walker on Monday because one of our general authorities will be there teaching and training them.  Russel M. Nelson is one of our 12 apostles.

I'm going to share the video on our FB pages so you can all see it there!

Here are the pictures with captions from President and Sister Lam

Our 24 new missionaries (this is at the airport just after they arrived)

Transfer week
We have 24 new missionaries and 8 departing this week. The 24 new one arrived the evening of the 20th. We were so busy that day and the APs and office elders were getting things ready for the new apartments that the mission has recently rented. We ended up grabbing a quick bit to eat at a Thai restaurant a few minutes from the airport before meeting them. This is another great group of missionaries that the Lord has sent to labor here. You can see from their countenance. They are eager and ready to serve and to bring people to come unto Christ. We are grateful to have them here, serving with us.

The 24 new trainees

Their trainers


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Suprise! This is the LAST letter from the MTC

Hello all,
   Today is a half p-day so that means that we get to do a spot of e-mailing. This week my companion and I taught one last letter to all of our investigators. That was sad. Most of them cried. We got most of them to baptism and the ones we didn't quite get are definitely on their way. 

   In addition we have good news in that no one has said anything about our visas which means that we have them and are definitely flying to Hong Kong this Monday!!! However  there is bad news in that we were supposed to get our real Hong Kong tags which have split English and Chinese but they messed up and had only Chinese. So we will have to get them in Hong Kong when we get there.

   This Friday we had in field orientation. That was a good 10 hours of meetings. It was weird that lots of the people we hosted were there. Everyone was shocked and amazed that we had been here for 9 weeks.

   In our last week we took an LSA (Language Speaking Assessment). I got a 3.66 out of 7. 7 is considered fluent and that was a huge leap from my last score so that was awesome!!! Still a fail but for only learning Cantonese for 9 weeks a little less than half way is great. 

   The events of today were the best though. We started with TRC. Instead of Skyping Hong Kong we got to teach real people and they were the best lessons we have ever taught. We also had our last lessons with our teachers. For the last Hour of the class we had a testimony meeting, in Cantonese of course. It was awesome lots of people cried. We got pictures with our teachers and said goodbye for possible ever. That was sad. I wrote Baak HD a letter thanking him for the awesome lessons that he taught. I will include pictures in a separate email as I am not able to send more than 3 at a time. 

   The other thing we did today was what is referred to as "The tower challenge". This means that we eat an entire tower of cereal as a District. It was awesome. It took 12 people and 15 spoons but we were finally able to finish the 68 bowls it required. Some of the Workers came over and talked to us. They asked how long we had been here and when we respond with 9 weeks and that we were going to Hong Kong, the Workers responded that it is usually oriental missions and missionaries that have just gone crazy and need something to entertain themselves with. So we laughed now our mouths hurt and we feel fat but it was worth it.

   Love you all,

Elder Walker
Brother Smith (teacher)

Sister Lau's love note

Looks like we sent the same phone as his companion's parents.

My LSA results

 My licence that certifies me as clergy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

The items they are abandoning and leaving for the next set of missionaries

The whole district with their teachers

Brother Barker (teacher)

Sister Lau (teacher)
the 68 bowls of cereal challenge

Monday, October 12, 2015

Possibly the last e-mail from this continent!!! (week 8 from the MTC)

Hello all,
   One of the highlights of this week was that Elder McGowan (my companion) needed to go to the doctor. Not for anything serious just a skin thing. So we got to get out of class and ESCAPE THE GATES!!! After 8 weeks of not leaving the gates save to go to the temple we got the opportunity to leave. A strange horseless carriage picked us up and the driver was using a rectangle of curious workman ship. It had two pointers one that pointed weather we should go and one that pointed weather we should go to obtain McDonald's It worked according to the head we gave unto it. However our faith did not affect it at all which was strange. If you don't get that reference read the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon. It was really nice to be around normal people again. Everyone was very nice to us, though that is probably because we were still in Provo. While I was waiting in the lobby I was able to read a normal magazine it was a businesses magazine so it was cool to get some financial news. My name tag is also in Chinese so that was a cool way that I had to start conversations with people. That was as good day.
   In other news Sister Haxer's mom lives down the road and owns a shirt printing company so she made us all really cool China Hong Kong shirts. I will attach pictures. They are awesome and they make all of the Spanish missionaries jealous so that's a plus haha. For those of you who are members you know that in the Church we use a lot of abbreviations ex: BOM, WOW, and BYC etc.. There is one that we have created that is floating around our branch that is go Ham (Hard as A Missionary) just something fun to break the tension. 
   As far as a culture update we learned that in Hong Kong you can just call an old person Grandma or Grandpa. They can't be middle aged though they have to be as our native teacher put it "The Chinese 1,000 year old people". They love it. Apparently it has something to do with how important family and respecting old people. Our teacher said that they especially love it if you are white. She said that even if our Chinese isn't very good but we are trying then they like us a lot and are very nice to us. We were then asking about milk in Hong Kong. Turns out most people there are lactose intolerant so they drink almond milk. Some one then brought up the story that she told us where she drank some of the BYU creamery "cookies and cream" milk. To which she then very loudly said that she can eat cheese and ice cream, then even louder she said that when she had cookies and cream milk "I have diarrhea 11 times!" so that was hilarious!!! 
   In other news we never met the Cantos. (Cantonese speaking missionaries) that were before us, however the new Cantos are coming this Wednesday so we will get to meet them. However we agreed that when we are in the class building we can't speak to them in English. Our RM teacher (Baak Hingdai) is sad because there are 8 sisters and 2 elders replacing our district. He is upset because he can not hug them. Because they are almost all sisters our native teacher, Sister Lau, will be their starting teacher. The problem with this is that she can not wright pingyham (Romanized Chinese so us white people can learn). So we had to teacher her how.
   We have also strarted taking a few extra spoons from the cafeteria and reverse pick pocketing  them into peoples pockets. It is a lot of fun but very difficult to pull off with them not noticing. So that has been our game for this week.
   However the best news is that WE GOT OUR FLIGHT PLANS!!! I will attach a picture so that you can see. All of the times of the arrivals and stuff are in local time. We leave here at 6am, drive to Salt Lake, fly to Seattle and then to Hong Kong. We should get there 8:30 ish Hong Kong time. That is awesome because then all we have to do is not sleep on the 16 hour flight to Hong Kong and stay up for three hours and then pass out. We are also very excited because we will be driven through the city at night so that way we will be able to see the lights. Our first night will be spent in Patron Housing in the temple. So we are very excited for that. Also the layover in Seattle will only be about two or three hours so we don't have an awful wait. It is also the closest I will be to home for the rest of my mission. It is going to be crazy waking up Monday morning in the middle of Utah then sitting on a plane then going to sleep in the temple... In Hong Kong! we might get an extra p-day on Saturday so we can wash our clothes before we go. I am not sure if we will be allowed to email though. So this might be my only letter for the next two weeks. We also got haircuts today because they are free and we wanted one last one before we left. 
   There are going to be a bunch of pictures this week. 
The big temporary escape!

Mini scriptures


They all look excited to have their travel plans!


Monday, October 5, 2015

Week....Something (week 7 from the MTC)

Hello All,
   So last week I said that for TRC we would be skyping members in Hong Kong. It turns out that not all of them were in Hong Kong but all were Hong Kong Yahn (low falling tone). It went incredibly well. She said that she learned a lot from our lesson and she marked the scriptures that we shared. That was a really cool feeling to know that now when she reads that verse we shared she will think of me and my companion. By the way whenever I say that we teach a lesson it is all in Cantonese. 

   One evening I was in "The Hood" (What we call the bottom floor of our residence hall) popping some popcorn and some elders that are going to Germany came in. It was awesome to speak German again. Unfortunately it was kind of hard because the first thing I went to was Chinese. Which I guess is a good thing.

   Every hour we get 7 min to get out of our classroom which we have taken to calling "the box" and the Koreans who are on our floor were on a break too. Now when I say Koreans I mean native Koreans. To our great surprise they were all brushing their teeth. All 12 of them at the same time. Now it's  3:30 in the afternoon mind you. So we asked one of them "How many times a day do you brush your teeth?" He thought for a moment and said "5 times". We all laughed and thought that was kind of fun. So now every time we see them around campus or in the hall we ask how many times they brush their teeth.

   We learned this week that sometimes Chinese people refer to Americans "White Ghosts" we thought that was silly. One of our RM teachers was teaching us (Baak Hingdai or brother Barker) with our native Hong Kong Teacher (Lau Jihmuih or sister Lau) and he teased her by calling her a banana which is to say yellow on the outside and white on the inside. We all had a good laugh about that.

  It also turns out that Taiwan is not giving Visas to The elders here. So most of them have been re-assigned to somewhere in the states to wait for their visas. We do not expect any of that trouble trying to get ours to Hong Kong.

   General Confrere was awesome. It is much better as a missionary. I think my favorite talk was Elder Holland's about the Divinity of motherhood. Plus sustaining three new apostles was a real treat.  Here is a link to Elder Holland's talk:   Elder Holland's Talk
   Usually on Sunday evening we have a Devotional and someone comes to speak to us. Instead because they didn't want anyone to have to follow the apostles and Prophet BYU vocal point came to sing to us. They had all served missions so they told us some of their fun stories. They also sang my favorite song by them "Nearer My God To Thee".

   There is also a fun thing that happens here at night which is when people get a package full of cookies or treats sometimes they go around to to peoples rooms and say "Law of Consecration?" and we share stuff. There is also a cardboard box on our floor called the Consecration box where Elders who are leaving put stuff that they want to leave behind.

  There are going to be a lot of pictures this week sorry.  Doesn't he know we LIVE for pictures?

The first is What it looks like to plan a lesson.

The second is the computer lab from which these emails come every week.

The third is what Elder McGowan and I did in the awesome rain storm  

Love you all,
Elder Walker

This is what it looks like to plan a lesson

 The computer lab where Gordon writes his emails
The Friday night tie exchange

The mountain Gordon gets to see every morning