Monday, September 19, 2016

James, As In Jerry & Georgia!

You won't meet any finer couple than Elder and Sister James.
They are from Salt Lake City, and serving in the Hong Kong Mission.
  Sister James is the nurse for the young Hong Kong missionaries.
Elder James served in the Hong Kong mission as a young elder, and this is their second time to serve in Hong Kong as a couple.  After serving together the first time 10 years ago, they both went back to school to become nurses, in order to be of greater help for future missions.
Elder James will tell you he was kicked out for bad behavior.  [Far from it, but if you ever meet him, you will understand why he can get away with saying that]
They served another mission in Africa before their second mission here.
 Sister James is a devoted companion to her husband, and the kind of lady people like to be around. 
 Elder James has a remarkable attitude towards life and its challenges,
 and he makes us all laugh with his quick wit, and gifted sense of humor.
The James were set apart to serve as ordinance workers once a week,
 and we were assigned to train them.
There wasn't much for us to do since they have more years experience as temple workers than we do.
After our first meeting with them, we confidently assured President Hui they are capable of doing anything they are asked to do.
Being the thoughtful couple they are, they invited us to dinner as a way of saying thank you for training them.  (Really, there was no training) But, that shows how kind and good they are.
They asked us to choose the place and time.  So, we made it a CHE (Couple Home Evening) activity at Outback Steak House just around the corner in Whampoa.  
When dining at Outback, a person forgets they are in Hong Kong, because this is the view.
Not exactly Australia, but possibly Italy, and it makes for a nice view and conversation.
After dinner, the James introduced us to the best place for a refreshing mango and coconut dessert.  We consider it one of the best we have had,
 and is only a short walk away across from Whampoa's Big Boat.  
If we had known about this place sooner, we would have taken more walks to Whampoa.
Before the evening ended, they tried to introduce us to the best waffles in Hong Kong,
 but the shop was closed.
We'll check it out another time, if time allows before our mission ends.
We sure thank them for a delicious dinner and great company.

Elder and Sister James amaze us with their dedication in serving.
We have learned from their example of giving the Lord their very best.
We want to be like Elder and Sister James when we grow up.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

James and Eriyana Andersen

We met Eriyana last March as she attended the temple
 with her future mother-in-law, Susan Andersen.
We didn't realize it, but Eriyana was a member of the Island 1st Branch before leaving to get married.
She seemed surprised that we didn't recognize her and even remember her name.
We have been here almost a year and a half, and we still don't know the names of every active member of this branch.  Its a challenge, and I doubt we will before our mission ends, 
but we know far more than we used to.
Today we met Eriyana's new husband, James as they attended church in Island 1st.  
They are now living in Ohio, and we congratulate them and wish them lots of happiness.
Eriyana was feeling a little queazy today.  Can't say for sure why, but we have our guesses.

Brother Suzuki Bids Farewell!

Brother Suzuki spoke in the branch today.  He is from Japan, but has lived in Hong Kong for 22 years, and has served on the District's High Council for the past decade.  This is his last Sunday to speak as a high councilman in Hong Kong, as he has been transferred to Singapore and will be moving there in two weeks.
Brother Suzuki joined the church at the age of 17 and was the only one in his family to do so.
He was the very first student to graduate from Institute in Japan.
We have become acquainted with Brother Suzuki since he attends the temple every week, and has done so for the past 20 years.  
He bore his testimony, but it was difficult for him to get out the words, as he was quite emotional.
He had recently attended the dedication of the Sapporo Japan Temple a short time ago, at which time he sat across from Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and his Institute teacher from way back when, who is now the Patriarch of that district.
It was apparent that meant a lot to him.

We are going to miss seeing him at the temple.  He's a guy we'd like to meet again someday.
 For now, we hope the Lord will bless him as he continues his work in Singapore.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sister Ong & Sister Ong!

Something remarkable occurred at the temple today that reaffirms to us that the Lord loves His children and sends them 'tender mercies'.
A young Sister Ong arrived this morning to receive her own endowment in preparation to serve a mission in London, England.  Her name is Charlene Ong, and she is from Singapore.  As she was changing into her white dress, another woman walked into the dressing room.  
I welcomed her and asked if she was Sister Ong's escort.  She told me she hadn't expected to be, but could be.  She then explained the situation, and this is what is remarkable: 

She told me her name is Laura Ong, and even though she has the same last name as Charlene, they are not related.  She is originally from Malaysia, but has been living in Salt Lake City teaching school since her husband passed away six years ago. She had come to the temple alone.  However, twenty plus years ago a young missionary taught her the gospel and she was then baptized.  This young missionary's name was Elder Ong, and as it turns out, he is Charlene's father.  After Elder Ong's mission, he married, but stayed in contact with Laura.  About 10 years ago he brought his family to Malaysia to meet Laura and her husband.
Sadly, Brother Ong and his wife eventually became inactive in the church, and Laura lost contact with them.
This morning as Laura approached the recommend desk, she noticed a young woman standing there, but did not recognize her.  Amazingly however, even though it had been 10 years, and they had met only once, Charlene recognized Laura, and told her who she was.   Charlene explained that her mother had come to Hong Kong with her, but because of her inactivity, was unable to enter the temple, and her father had since passed away.  So, there was no one else to go through with her,  or at least she thought. You can imagine the emotions that swept over them both.

Charlene came to the temple this morning expecting to be assisted by someone she doesn't even know, and Laura expected to not know a soul either, but because of the Lord's tender mercy, they both had someone at their side with a special connection.

How did they end up at the Hong Kong Temple at the same time on the same day?

Charlene Ong was to have arrived yesterday, but her flight was cancelled, so it delayed her getting to the temple as originally scheduled.  Laura Ong decided at the last minute to get to the temple a little earlier than she had planned.  If Charlene's flight had not been cancelled, she would not have seen Laura, and this miracle would not have happened.

It is a blessing to have witnessed this miracle, and as Sister Wong suggests, it just may be the miracle needed to bring a change of heart to Charlene's mother.  One can hope!  

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Murapaka Family From India!

 Sister Uma Punyavathi with her sons, Kranthi and Naveen, and daughter-in-law, Sarika.
 Naveen Kumer and Sarika Murapaka from India
In 2004, Brother Murapaka walked into what he thought was a movie theater, only to discover Mormon missionaries were teaching the gospel inside.  He was interested in what they had to say, and was soon baptized.  He served a two-year mission until 2012.
 Brother Murapaka's father did not join the church, and passed away in 2007.  It was his mother, Uma who arranged his marriage to Sarika.  They were engaged for 6 months before they were married.
They have been married for 4 years, and now have been able to come here to be sealed for eternity.
Mr. and Mrs. Naveen Kumar Murapaka
Naveen was baptized as proxy for his father.
Uma was sealed to her deceased husband, 
and then she and her sons were sealed as an eternal family.
So happy this day finally came for them.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Asia's Mission Presidents & Their Wives

The Mission Presidents of Asia and their wives are in Hong Kong for a few days
 to attend a semi-annual conference.
These brothers and sisters are serving in countries like
Cambodia, India, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong.
Part of their conference includes attending a special session at the temple,
and today Elder Bodily, Sister Fanny Chan, and I were assigned to this session.
As we sat in that ordinance room, a feeling of admiration and respect came to us both, because we saw 30 men and women who are truly living the law of consecration.
We are humbled by their examples of faith, devotion, 
and their willingness to make sacrifices for the Lord.
Afterwards, we learned that Pres. and Sister Harper are from the little town of Rupert, Idaho.  The same town my Grandma and Grandpa Thompson lived, and my mom was born and raised. 
They also know the Jurgensmeiers, and requested we say, 'hi' to them.  Pres. Harper served as counselor in a stake presidency to Steve Bodily.  We don't know him, but with a name like Bodily, there is most likely a connection, but as far as we know, not a close one.
President and Sister Harper serve in Mongolia, and feel the same as we do about the Mongolian saints.  They are a kind and big-hearted people and so easy to love.
President and Sister Harper - fellow Idahoans

A First, And Hopefully The Last!

This is just a quick mention that I did something today I didn't expect to ever do.

When I woke up this morning, I knew a special session for the Asia Mission Presidents and their wives would take place today at 1:30.  This occurs twice a year, and I was looking forward to it, because they bring a special feeling to the temple.
What I wasn't expecting was to walk into Preparation Meeting and be asked to lead the music for our opening hymn.  I've let it be known that I have not done that before, other than for our own FHE, and would not be comfortable doing so.  But since we were few in numbers this morning, Brother Lam was desperate, and there wasn't anyone else able or willing.  After some coaxing from Sisters Chow and Law, I worked up enough courage to give it a try.  Amazingly, I managed to stay in rhythm, and on top of it, sang at the same time using my Cantonese Hymn Book.  There is no way I could have done this without some help from above, of which I am thankful.  But, I'm really hoping this is a once in a lifetime experience.