Knock Knock….Rejected! (And loving it)

Hello my family and friends,

Hopefully everyone is doing great and recovering nice and smoothly. This week has been a crazy week over here in China. There were times that I wish I had a constant camera on us, because it would make a pretty good movie.

Ok, to start off, I am going to talk a little bit about my new apartment. It is a pretty fun LITTLE place. It is small, but nice and cozy, and the air conditioner works faster in smaller apartments. We have been trying to get everything sorted out. We are slowly getting all of the things needed to live. Our washer still floods the kitchen every time we wash clothes, but that will be a pretty simple fix. So, here is a funny story about our apartment. I was taking a shower in the tiny Asian shower, when the wind blew the curtain open. It startled me pretty badly so I dropped the shower head. Then that sprayed me in the face, and I couldn’t see so I slipped and fell. The entire time, water is spraying everywhere in the bathroom. By the time I untangle myself from the curtain and get the water stopped, it was a mess in there. Water was dripping from the ceiling and the walls…. All of my roommates wanted to see what had happened, but they were too scared to open the bathroom door… It was a very interesting morning cleaning all of that up!

Elder Leung, my new companion, is awesome. It is way different from having an American companion, but my language is being forced to get better, and I am also able to help him with his English questions. The language is a little bit of a barrier, but we are finding ways to work through that. He says I cook like an American, so now he always runs into the kitchen to cook lunch before I can get in there and start… I didn’t think I was that bad of a cook!

I didn’t know this, but part of my area includes this little village, so this week we decided to go visit it. It is just a tiny little village on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It is so amazing there. There is also a nice beach that we tried to find people on. There are only the few main roads in this village, then there are all the tiny (3-4 feet wide) paths that go between all of the houses. We could knock on doors there, so I got to try my first taste of knocking on doors and getting rejected that way! YAY! It was so cool, and such an amazing place. I loved it there; I will have to show some pictures next week. We didn’t have any immediate success, but we were able to talk to a 100 year old grandma and a man whose wife was going into labor… It was a very interesting day.

We had our confirmation on Sunday, and that was awesome. I got to stand in the circle. He was so happy and I am so happy to be able to see how much joy this gospel can bring into someone’s life. Since he got baptized, we are having to start all over again. It feels weird to not keep teaching him, but we are out trying to find new people to help now. Finding is frustrating sometimes, but then a miracle happens and it makes it all worth it.

Yesterday, all of my roommates locked me in the little room and tickle tortured me until I would sing them a song…. It was not fun, and my stomach hurts today from laughing so hard. I don’t know how, but somehow all of the mission knows I am ticklish… It may be the death of me.

Well, that is about it for this week, not a whole lot of new stuff, just a lot of adjusting and exploring. Nathan, you look good in your homecoming picture. I am glad you had a good time. She is a cutie, you will have to tell me some stories later 😉 ha-ha I love you all and hope you have a good week. Don’t party too hard without me!

Love, Elder Brown

First Baptism

Hello my amazing (and medically challenged) family, friends, and other loved ones!

What is up with all the needed surgeries? 3 in one week? Come on! Ha-ha that is crazy, I hope you are all well and that everything will be alright. I will pray extra hard for all of you. Mom and dad, I am glad you all had a fun trip. I love the “bubba gump” picture. It looks like you had an awesome time. I am glad you got to experience some of the nice, warm, humid, weather. It actually feels like it is cooling down slightly here in Hong Kong (or maybe I am just getting used to it). This week has been completely crazy! There has been so much that has changed.

First, today I got a new companion. He is named Elder Leung. He is from here in Hong Kong. It is going to be really nice to have a native companion who can really help me with the language and who really knows the culture of Hong Kong. I was scared at first, because I am leaving my trainer and this is the first time in Hong Kong that I have switched companions. But he is a really cool kid and very nice. We have just been laughing ever since we met, so I am not worried at all anymore. I am still in the same area, but today we also got a new apartment that is in our area, so we have spent all morning switching companions and packing and moving everything. The new apartment is super small, but it is all new and is pretty nice and clean. I am way excited.

Ok, here is my awesome first baptism story (definitely one that I won’t forget). It was an awesome day, about 70% of the ward showed up. Everything was going amazing. The “program” part went great, and then we went downstairs to the baptismal font. I step down into the water and my heart drops. The water barely went up past my knees. I just thought to myself “how am I going to get this man under the water, if it barely even covers my knees!” But we didn’t have time to fill up the font more, so he came down in with me. I said the prayer (which I was also nervous for) without any problems. Then I put him under. It was tough, but I got him completely under… Except for his pants in the thigh area. So, I tried again. (It’s like when you are saying the sacrament prayer and make a mistake, you instantly get super nervous!) The exact same thing happened. So I got to try again! This time, when I put him under the water, I grabbed all the extra clothe that I could with my back hand and pulled until my hand hit the floor… but the stupid pant leg still kept floating! By this time, I was just super embarrassed and just wanted to get out of that font. We realized that it was practically impossible to baptize with that small amount of water, so we had him kneel down and I baptized him. So, technically, I had 4 baptisms this week! It was pretty humiliating, but he was still just as happy as ever. He will get confirmed Sunday in sacrament meeting. He has already been helping other missionaries teach without us even knowing, so he is an awesome member already!

Ok, I have a weird food story now. This week we went to this little hole in the wall place to eat. They had all these different entrees sitting out in little pans to choose from. I honestly had no idea what to eat, it all looked pretty weird. So I randomly chose something. I asked my companion what it was, but he wouldn’t tell me. So I ate it. It was really salty and chewy. Not completely awful, but definitely not my favorite. After I ate it, my companion told me it was cow stomach and intestines…. yup! I don’t think I will choose that one again.

In Hong Kong, it is illegal to knock on apartment doors, but if we have a record saying that they are a member of our church, then we can go visit them. Occasionally we will try and knock on less actives doors. It is scary enough, walking through these long dark hallways and knocking on a random door, but this week we had an even scarier experience. We found the building we were supposed to go into, so we went and told the guard that we wanted to visit our friend. He gave us a weird look, then went into his office to call someone to see if it was alright. As we were waiting for him, all these men started coming up to us and looking at us weird. At one point, I would say we were surrounded by about 10 men. It has this really eerie feeling to it. I looked over at the wall, and it said “Hong Kong rehab and crime prevention center” We were being surrounded by a bunch of crazy ex-cons!!! I told Elder Parkin and we were both pretty creeped out. On the one wall it had a list of all the residents and everything they were diagnosed with. Finally we just told the man in the office it was the wrong place. It was one of the scariest moments every. We were able to laugh about it after, but I was pretty freaked out at the time.

Gene is the stake president now?!? I didn’t know this. It is so cool that he gets to set Carl apart. Did this happen before or after Emily left? That is crazy news. I am so excited for Carl, he is going to be an awesome missionary. I will need to get his and Emily’s mission addresses so I can write them eventually. Hopefully Karen is doing ok; I bet Christmas is going to be slightly different around their house this year. It is going to be so cool to have 3 missionaries out from our family!

Well, that is pretty much it for my crazy week. I hope you are all doing awesome! I hope you all know that I pray for you everyday, and you need to know that I can feel your prayers. I love you all so much, stay amazing!!!

Love, Elder Bubba

Asian Pizza & “Chicken Poop”

Hello to all my amazing family and friends from all over the “world” 🙂

I hope everything is going amazing for you all this week. It has been another crazy week here in China, but when has a missionary ever had a “normal” week? Probably the most exciting thing is we have been preparing for one of our awesome investigators to get baptized on Sunday. In just three days!!!! I am so excited for him (and I will admit, I am pretty excited to have a first baptism) ha-ha. Every time we see him, he is just smiling so hard because of how excited he is. His story is amazing, and the changes he has made in his life to get to here is so inspiring. You meet so many people here, who honestly just want to have a better life, and that is what we are trying to do every single day, give them that little glimpse of hope.

This week I got to try my first “Asian pizza”. It consisted of 1000 island dressing instead of red sauce, baby octopus, shrimp, and some other weird chewy thing. When the member told us we were going to pizza hut, I was pretty excited to have some normal American food…. I was so wrong. It actually wasn’t too awful; the family is pretty “American” so they also ordered some normal pizza for us. They are the coolest family, and they are always so good to the missionaries. They have a house in Orem, so when I get back home, whenever they visit, I will take them out for some good American food! Ha-ha

Another crazy food that I tried this week is called chicken poop. We don’t really think it is chicken poop, but we can’t be completely sure. It is this little jelly ball, but it has little hard chunks and pieces of grass or something in it. It was pretty nasty, but the Chinese people really like it. Maybe I just couldn’t get over the fact that it is called chicken poop. oh well, I promised mom I would try any and all food that was offered to me, even though it may be some of the nastiest things ever.

Yesterday, my companion and I decided that we were going to learn how to text in Chinese. We always need to send texts to investigators, but we never know how to write the characters. So we sat down and taught ourselves. Probably not the most effective thing we could have done, but we had a lot of fun, and can now send texts if we need to.

So in Hong Kong, we can’t go knocking on doors, so we usually go to a park, and walk around in the sun finding people. One day this week, we were tired of trying that. So we thought of some new ideas to try and get people. Our answer, singing finding! I just stood in the middle of the walkway and sang hymns in Chinese at the top of my lungs while my companion tried to talk to people around me. I got some great stares, and it really helped invite the spirit in certain situations. If anything, it was just a way for us to do something different and fun.

This week, I started reading Jesus the Christ. It is a big, complicated book, but I am loving it and learning so much about Jesus. It is amazing how many little facts I didn’t know about, can slightly change the way you look at the stories you have heard for your entire life. It is a way interesting book, and sometimes I feel like our hour of study time just isn’t enough! I will keep you updated on how that is going,

Well, that is it for the week; I hope you have a good time wherever you are! I love you all!

Love, Elder Bubba

The Gift of Tongues

Hello friends and slightly more importantly, family!!!

What a crazy week this has been. It was so awesome to hear from all of you and even to get an awesome video! The computers I am on don’t have sound, but I was still able to see! Maybe the other computers I go to will have sound. I will try for next week. This week has gone by so fast, I can’t believe that I am about to hit my 5 month mark. Time is just flying by so fast.

I will start with what I did last week after I emailed. Tons of missionaries went to a place called Korean BBQ. It is this buffet type place, but then you cook your own food at your table on a little grill in the center. It was so good. I also tried ox tongue while I was there. It was pretty good. I had such a good time. We also went to the temple which is always an amazing experience! I love going to the temple. It is funny how I can be on the complete opposite side of the world and go into a building where everything is “exactly the same”. I love it. Then we went to an outdoor market place called Ladies Street. It is just a street where there are tons of shops set up along the road and you can just go and bargain for practically any item you want. Our apartment all got matching soccer jerseys, so that was fun.

Sunday, we had church with ward council and all the other fun meetings missionaries go to. Our ward has been so awesome lately. They have come up with this huge plan on how the members can help the missionaries more and lots of other activities to help us. Our ward is small (only about 15 active priesthood holders, and only one is a young man), but they are all so powerful and our relationship with them is improving so much. A complete 360 degree turn from when I first got here. Tonight, one of the families is taking us out to dinner. They have been in Utah for a month, because their kids are going to UVU. But before that they took us out to dinner to, so they are being so amazing with the missionaries and I am so grateful for them. He is the old first councilor in the mission presidency before president hawks got here. They are an amazing family. He is now the young men’s president and his wife is the relief society president. They are such a strong family.

On Sunday I also got to teach a lesson all by myself in Cantonese. We had to go on splits because we had more investigators than missionaries. It was pretty scary, but I got through it. It is amazing how missionaries learn the language in Hong Kong, because the mission in and of itself is a bi-lingual mission. We have Mandarin, Tagalog, Cantonese, and English speakers. And there aren’t very many natives that are here, so it really is a miracle how we learn the language. God helps so much.

On Monday, we were finding in this park, I was on exchanges with another missionary who is even younger than me. I don’t know how we did it, but somehow we both survived. There was one point where I found this lady. She didn’t speak any English or any Cantonese. She only spoke mandarin. I don’t know how I did it, but somehow I talked to her in enough mandarin to get her phone number and name. I don’t even know what I was saying, but the lord was just putting a completely strange language into my mouth and words were coming out. After, the missionary that I was with said, “I didn’t know you spoke mandarin” I replied with a simple, “Neither did I”. It was such an amazing testimony builder of knowing that the gift of tongues is so real. I barely remember any mandarin from when I took the class, so I know that it was through God’s help that I talked with that lady.

Today for P-day, we went to an island called Cheung Chau. It is just this little tiny island in the middle of nowhere. We took a boat out to the island; it is the same type of boat that we rode in Mexico. This island is just this little fishing village. There are little houses all over the place. There are no cars either. Everyone just rides bikes around. If a family wants to ride together, the dad gets on the bike, and the wife and a kid sit on the cart that the bike is pulling. It was pretty amazing place, so much more peaceful than the crazy Hong Kong big city I am used to. There were also a couple Chinese temples that we got to go look at on this island. Lastly, and my favorite part, is the pirate cave. You hike up through this forest, on a little path. Finally, the trees clear and you are standing on these big rock cliffs looking over the ocean. Then you hike along the cliff walls, and then there is a little hole in the ground you can climb into. As you climb through this tiny cave, there are random ladders to use. There are some parts that I had to get on my knees and suck in really hard to get through. It is pitch black and you honestly have no idea where you are going. Luckily I had a small flashlight to give us some light. At the end of the cave, you come back out on the cliffs hanging over the ocean. It was pretty amazing. It was so much fun to go through, that we went through again. Then we went back, bought some frozen pineapple, and ate lunch along the shore. It was an amazing day, I am worn out from all the hiking, but it was so worth it.

So that is it for the week, it has been a crazy week, but one of the funnest. This week has been full of times when you lay down at night completely exhausted, and you feel like you are just living in a dream. Then you wake up the next morning and go at it all again. Sometimes it’s rough, sometimes it’s fun, sometimes you are so stressed out that you just want to pull your hair out, and sometimes you just laugh for no apparent reason. That’s mission life for you!

Love, Elder Bubba!