A 'hump' day report of Han's 1st year in his Manchester UK Chinese speaking Mission

Han’s Mission experience summarized on his ‘Hump’ day i.e. on the half-way mark of his mission :

1st Quarter (13 weeks)

28 June 2012 Thur – received email that he arrived safely at the Missionary Training Center (MTC)
29 June - MTC sent an email containing link to an online  album of photos that will cover his 3 weeks at the MTC that is found here.

At the MTC sharing his first embarrassing experience
Week 1 (3 July 2013)
1st email received from Han on his ‘Preparation day’ or ‘P-day’, an off-work day for missionaries to do their laundry, grocery shopping, writing home emails or letters etc to prepare for the new forthcoming week. He is at The England MTC that is located near Chorley and his P-day happens to be on Tuesday.
He shared his experience in his Singapore to Amsterdam flight, relating how fast missionary work started due to his tendency to embarrass himself in public that created a great conversation starter with the man to be seated next to him from Amsterdam. In his own words of the experience:
'I have had so many wonderful, funny, and even challenging experiences since I've been set apart as a missionary. Just that night when I flew from Singapore to Amsterdam, for some reason I zoned out while getting on the plane and mistook my aisle for another, so I made a huge halt of the traffic while I stumbled to the other aisle, only to realize that I had gotten it right the first time round, so I fumbled my way back and eventually found my seat. The man seated next to me leaned over and joked about my little adventure trying to find my seat. 
"I guess that's why the captain is making an announcement that we are 5 minutes behind schedule," I replied with a sheepish grin. 

"Well, you only just about managed to block about half of the passengers on the plane," he chuckled.'

Elder Chong ended up chatting with the man for hours as he was curious about the life of a missionary. At the end of the flight, he left a note for him to check out the website www.mormon.org if he was interested to know more about the Gospel he was flying all the way to Manchester to share.

Photos at the MTC

From Malaysia

With his MTC President Walker who had sung in the tabernacle choir before. His wife happens to be the oldest daughter of President Hinckley

With his MTC teacher Brother Loynes

With the other MTC teacher Brother Rojas who had served in the London South Mission where fellow Malaysian Adrian Foong had served on his mission.

With the MTC District Photo outside the Preston Temple

Photos taken on a Church history tour of Lancashire :

With his 1st MTC missionary companion, Elder McCarthy from Boulder, Colorado who is heading to the Scotland/Ireland Mission

Elder Luo, who is from China and will be serving a Mandarin Chinese speaking mission in Scotland/Ireland.

Elder Gabler is his new companion who is from Forst, Germany (it's 10 minutes away from Poland) and will be serving as an English-speaking missionary in the Birmingham mission.

 A shot with the classic British telephone booth

Leaving the MTC after 3 weeks there, last day Tues 17 July 2012

Making their way to to the mission field, Wed 18 July 2012

On Week 3 on 19th July, we received an email from President Preston of the England Manchester Mission (seen in the above photo with his wife on the far right) that Elder Han would be released to the mission field

We had received Elder Chong's email earlier, while he was still in the MTC, sharing his excitement with the following words : "I've been feeling the love of Christ a lot here, and I am really really really really eager to go out and share that with everyone. One of the Elders in my district called me a bloodhound just waiting to be unleashed haha."

First area to serve, Manchester

Elder Chong was assigned to serve in the Young Single Adults Ward in Manchester as a Mandarin Chinese Speaking missionary.

His companion and trainer is Elder Peterson , from Alpine Utah. A bit about Elder Peterson, he has three adopted younger siblings, of which one is a little girl from Taiwan. He cane here as a Mandarin Chinese-speaking missionary and is able to speak Chinese pretty well.

Here is a short miracle shared by Elder Chong in his new mission field :
'Elder Peterson and I met up with Sister Sun today ("Sun" as in "Sun Zhong Shan" in Chinese). She is a middle-aged lady who has been learning about the Gospel for 2 years now. I asked her how she came to know the missionaries, and she said that she was given a Book of Mormon 2 years ago by a missionary. However, they were unable to exchange contact information and she flew back from England to China 2 days later. A year later, when she was back in England, the very same missionary knocked on her door. She knew then that God had sent that missionary and she expressed her faith that God is watching over her.'

He is expected to be serving in Manchester city for this transfer cycle which is 6 weeks long.

6 weeks since he was called and 3 weeks into the mission field after missionary training, Elder Han reports that things are growing very well and he is enjoying himself in Manchester. In his first exchange of a missionary companion to have District Leader Elder Herrin as his new companion, he reports : 

'The exchange was exciting for me because being with Elder Herrin meant that I was proselyting among all the English people and not just the Chinese people which was my usual responsibility. Hence, we spoke to EVERYONE we could while on the street. We were in a residential area so it was actually possible to speak to every visible person on the street.

One fun thing about proselyting in an area where there aren't many people on the street is that Elder Herrin and, by extension, I, would sometimes have to run in order to catch up with people who are a little far off. Occasionally we would have to leap over fences if necessary. I figure that the trick is to be able to do it in such a way that you do not look like you are about to assault somebody.
Nevertheless, after much running and leaping about, we were on one occasion able to catch up with someone who turned out to be interested in our message, and we were able to teach her about God and the Restoration on the spot. It just goes to show that running about (in the most dignified manner I can muster) and appearing to some as a frenzied fanatic is small price to pay to be able to find just that one person who is waiting to hear and be blessed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Speaking of prices to pay, during the exchange I developed a new blister in addition to the 4 I already had as a new missionary. I took it as a symbol of my spiritual growth during the exchange. That's not to say that I expect all my spiritual growth will be manifest in new blisters though - I'd probably be disfigured beyond recognition within a month of my mission if that was the case. Anyway, Elder Herrin noticed that I was limping/hopping while running in an attempt to minimise the pain coming from the blisters.

"Are you all right?" He asked.

"It's okay, it's only pain," I replied.

He later told me during our exchange inventory (where we evaluate our performance during the exchange and discuss what we've learnt) that "it's okay, it's only pain" was the one line he would use to sum up my attitude that he saw in me as a missionary.'

Here is a photo of a blister on his feet.

Special hike up Mt. Snowdon in Wales
On Week 8 (20 Aug 2012), This we the missionaries in the England Manchester Mission were treated to a once-in-a-mission experience - we went hiking! President Preston declared the past few weeks as a time to rededicate and recommit ourselves to the service of God. As a result, we were given a trip to the temple at Chorley and were given an opportunity to hike up Mt. Snowdon in Wales! Here are some pics :

With a group of missionaries on Mt Snowdon 

This was the pic he hoped would make his Yale-NUS college proud!

Week 9  Elder Chong writes, this transfer cycle, I will be serving with Elder Cai in the YSA Ward in Manchester, which is the same area in which I served with Elder Peterson. Elder Peterson went home a week before the actual transfer week because he had to get ready for school,

Elder Cai, my new companion, is an AMAZING missionary. He is 6 foot 3, and was born in Shen Zhen, China, and when he was 11 he moved with his family to the "Holy City of Las Vegas", as he likes to put it. It was there that he and his parents met the missionaries and joined the Church. Today, he is very much half-American and half-Chinese in his ways, which is an interesting mix.

A new missionary newly released into the mission field, serving in the same ward as Elder Chong is Sister Amanda Loh who is also from Singapore.

Elder Chong and Elder Cai with Anny, a person they are teaching

With the McArthurs, a senior missionary couple serving in the YSA Ward in Manchester

Working hard as a missionary builds up a big appetite for a kebab!

Second area to serve, Preston
Week 12 (17 Sep 2012), Elder Chong reports, 'Big news! It's been confirmed that I will be transferring to Preston this week.'

With his new companions Elder Chan from Hong Kong on the left and Elder Zavala from Utah

He writes, 'The world is incredibly small! As most of you with Facebook might know by now, Elder Zavala's sister served in the same mission as Sujie! I got the email from Sujie with the cute sisters and brothers photos. Elder Zavala also got a long email with many photos of Sisters Zavala and Chong's mission.

This is where the world gets even smaller - Elder Chan knows one of the Sisters in one of the photos Sister Zavala took during her mission. Apparently Sister Hui was a close friend of Elder Chan's sister! Even better - if you haven't found out already, Jonny Liu was Elder Zavala's MTC teacher! It's definitely no coincidence that Elder Chan, Elder Zavala and I are all serving together here in Preston :)

It is getting COLD here in England. The temperature is hovering just over 10 degrees Celcius here. The  missionaries from Utah tell me that although England has relatively warmer temperatures compared to Utah,
the cold here really bites because it's a lot more humid here.'

2nd Quarter (another 13 weeks)

First Mooncakes eaten in UK sent by Mom
Week 14 (1 Oct 2012) Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

The Elders moved to a new Flat. In his own words he said, 'Elder Chan, Elder Zavala and I moved to a new flat, which is possibly the most posh flat in the entire England Manchester Mission. We are sharing the flat with our Zone Leaders, Elder Delaibatiki (from New Zealand) and Elder Herrin (from Utah). Elder Herrin was formerly my District Leader when I was serving in Manchester. The new flat is FANTASTIC. The kitchen is huge and it even has an island - my dream kitchen! The carpets are very nice, there's a fireplace, and there's even a jacuzzi/bathtub/shower!'

Elder Han had received the 'Mooncakes' and Milo from home and shared with his companions and some of the Elders who had helped them moved into the flat.

Assigned early to train a new Elder

He reports on Week 15 (11 Oct 2012), 'Alas, my dear follow-up trainer Elder Chan has been called to serve his final transfer as a missionary in Liverpool, where he will be follow-up training one of the two missionaries who were first trained by Elder Cai in Manchester. As a result, my Mission President has assigned me to remain in Preston to follow-up train Elder Zavala!

I've only just barely completed my own training (First 12 Weeks) and now I've been called to train a new missionary! All I can say is that I'm *definitely* going to need the Lord's help in this calling. My own First 12 Weeks was pretty unstable - for various reasons, I served with at least 5 different companions at varying lengths of time all within my first 2 Transfers. Most new missionaries usually stay with their Trainer for the first 2 Transfers. Nevertheless, I see it as a great benefit, for I have been blessed to have picked up skills from 5 highly fantastic, experienced missionaries!'

Attending his first Baptism

He writes, 'I've finally attended a baptism for the first time on my Mission! A girl from China named Kai Ge was baptized last week in Manchester. Elder Peterson and I first began teaching her about 2 months ago, and then Elder Cai and I continued to teach her. After I transferred over to Preston, Elder Cai and the other 2 new missionaries continued to teach her, and she was baptised last week! I had to rush to Manchester from Preston in order to attend the baptismal service, and I arrived just as the baptismal service began. After the baptism, Kai Ge was extremely happy, and her countenance was truly shining with the Light of Christ. I was overjoyed to see her begin a new life in the Gospel of Jesus Christ :)' 

Becoming a Master Chef

On Sunday 14 October was Elder Zavala's birthday. 

This is how he described the FEAST they had, 'We marinated 12 pieces of pork steak the night before and then slow cooked it in french onion soup and some vegetables in the morning before we left for Church. When we came back, I made some potatoes and carrots mash (my first attempt) to go with the pork. We had some ready made salad and some toasted bread to go with everything as well. It was DELICIOUS. It was probably the most elaborate meal ever prepared by Elders in the history of the England Manchester Mission.'

Looks like Elder Chong will not only master proselyting and teaching skills as a missionary but will return home also as a master chef as well!

Five days after Elder Zavala's birthday is Elder Chong's where he decided to prepare a feast for himself too! The letter of Week 17 contains his own words which explains why he is becoming a master chef, 'Since I stay in a four-man flat, I decided to prepare a feast. I had to start preparing the ingredients about 2 days before my birthday because I dont' have a huge chunk of time to prepare meals each day.

I had loads of fun preparing the meal! As a missionary I no longer have time to draw comics or write music, so cooking is about the final frontier for me to be creative.'

What a birthday feast it turned out to be for the 22 year old Elder celebrated with 3 other Elders in the Preston flat!

A toast to the Birthday boy! Cheers for bearing pain of blisters! Cheers for being a great chef! Cheers for smiling always!

Another Baptism
Was great to know that the report of his Week 17 letter included some reports of his missionary work. It's been a fantastic week! Elder Zavala and I are helping two people prepare for baptism here in Preston, and another person I previously taught in Manchester is getting baptised! We've been able to see how much their lives have changed as they've received the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives.

We see here the photo of the young man in Preston that got baptized on the far left. His name is Zhi Jie, affectionately called "Jorge" by those unable to pronounced his Chinese name. This photo was taken after his baptism with his supportive parents on the right. Elder Chong commented that his parents were supportive of his baptism as they had seen how the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has been a positive influence in his life. That reminded Elder Han of how his own Mom had her partents' support when she started attending Church activities in her youth.

Sad letter to send to the Mission President from home
Week 19 (7 Nov 2012)

Letter to Elder Han's Mission President from his father

Dear President Preston,

It is with sadness that we wish to inform you of the passing of the mother of Elder Han in Singapore at 8.06pm  on 6 Nov, the local Singapore time and date. This ends her 7 year fight against cancer.

We hope you can convey this information to him. We wish to add that since he is in the midst of an important errand of the Lord, our family who are all active LDS members will understand mission reasons for not having him return home for the funeral service that will take place on the Friday evening of Nov 9, Singapore time. We thank you for the opportunity given to Elder Han to speak to his mother on the phone in the afternoon of the same day of her death, for a considerable amount of time. This point further adds to the confidence of our family members that Elder Han would feel fine if he was not physically present at her funeral for he already had good contact with her while she was alive.

We wish him continued success in the mission field and that he may know the Lord will bless him for the sacrifices he makes to diligently build the Lord’s kingdom on earth. Please let him know this.

Thank you.

SF Chong the father

Comments from Elder Chong's father :

A sad letter to send to the Mission President. Not sad because he couldn't make it for the funeral of his mother but it is a sad event for anyone losing his or her mother especially a mother who has with great love done so much for all her kids whether it be for school or church or life in generally, making the best food, playing the funniest games and instilling the highest morale in every child by example.

I felt I needed to inform the Mission President how we would feel if he didn't come home as we are true latter-day saints. We not only firmly believe in a Savior and life after death but the teachings of eternal families from our temple sealing ordinances keep a special spirit in all of us at any time should we lose a member of our family. On top of that, some of our family members have also served missions previously and know how focused a missionary is in the work of God and how close he will be to the Savior who personally directs the work of saving the souls of Man. 

Letter from Elder Chong on 8 Nov 2012

Hi everyone,

I received special permission from my Mission President, President Preston, to email the family in response to Mom's passing.

As we all know, I will not be able to attend Mom's funeral, although I was able to speak to Mom over the phone just hours before her death. That opportunity in itself was a tender mercy of the Lord, because that morning happened to be the day of my interview with President Preston. It was truly an arrangement of the Lord that the interview was planned for that morning, because I was able to call Dad using President Preston's phone.

I know that I am where I need to be at this time. I know that the Lord called me to be on a Mission at this particular time because there are specific people here that I need to share the Gospel with. I left for my Mission fully aware that I may not be able to see Mom when I return home. However, I know that this is where Mom wants me to be as well.

I received a call from President Preston yesterday afternoon (around noon local time 7 Nov 12) informing me that Mom had passed away. Just earlier that morning while I was having my personal scripture study, I heard Mom's voice reminding me to stay focused, and I will.

Since I would not be able to attend the funeral, I have written something in memory of Mom. If time permits, I would like it to be read at her funeral or posted somewhere for all to read. If possible as well, I would like the video/music I wrote for Mom's 50th Birthday to be played at her funeral, since I am not able to write music in memory of her at this time. I posted the slideshow I made for her 50th Birthday this year (with the piano piece I wrote for her on Youtube. It should easily be found by searching for "Someone to Live For (by Han Chong)" on Youtube. Otherwise, I've attached the .mp3 file for your use.

Please send my regards and heartfelt thanks to all who have helped or consoled our family at this time.

I love you all,
Elder Chong

His writing in memory of Mom and video/music composed personally by him is posted in Mom's memorial family post found here.

On Coping with Mom's passing by Elder Chong
Week 21 (12 Nov 2012)

"Coping with Mom's passing while out on a Mission is a strange thing. On one hand, everything feel so distant, as if it can hardly affect me while I'm here doing the Lord's work. On the other hand, little things here and there will occasionally hit home the realisation that Mom has passed on.

I was away from Preston on an exchange in Lancaster when I received word of Mom's passing. It was another one of the Lord's tender mercies, because I had a great exchange companion, Elder Gabler (from Germany)

Elder (Florian) Gabler and I have a rather interesting connection: I served with his cousin, Elder (Lukas) Gabler, in the MTC! Elder (Florian) Gabler entered the MTC just after Elder (Lukas) Gabler and I entered the Mission Field, and he's now serving in an area not very far from mine.

Elder Gabler is an amazing cook. He claims that he hardly did any cooking back home, which just proves that he's a natural. He made apple pancakes (from scratch) in the morning, which were delicious.

I recommended that we could add bananas and cinnamon to the pancakes, which was a success

Later during the afternoon when I received a call from my Mission President regarding Mom's passing, Elder Gabler cooked yet another delicious meal which turned out to be great comfort food. He later baked a mountain of cookies during the time that my Mission President gave me to rest and mourn! 

It was great to be with Elder Gabler during that time, not only because I got to eat something besides curry or fried rice (which is basically the only food my flatmates in Preston desire to eat every week), but also because he had a strong German accent that reminded me of Mom's fascination with Arnold Schwazenegger haha.

Another transfer in week 21 but Elder Chong remains in Preston.
Writes Elder Han, 'Exciting news! I'll be staying in Preston this transfer, and I'll also be training another new Chinese-speaking missionary who will be coming over from Provo in the middle of December! I'm not sure what the full details are, because I'm still follow-up training Elder Zavala, but from what I heard, we might be in a trio in Preston, which is crazy.
They also moved Sister (Amanda) Loh from Manchester to Preston this transfer. Her companion doesn't speak Chinese, but by the middle of December we might have 4 Chinese-speaking missionaries in Preston, which is going to be incredible. I am excited :)'

Elder Chan, Chai and Chong (From L to R)

Says Elder Chong, 'A photo of Elders Chan, Cai, and Chong, which suggests that there is much truth in the joke that Chinese people name their children by throwing their pots and pans down the stairs. Sadly, Elder Chan has completed his Mission and is going back to Hong Kong today, whereas Elder Cai will be home before Christmas. Very soon, I'll be the only ethnic Chinese Elder in the mission!'

First assignment to drive a Car
He and Elder Zavala were given a special assignment to drive a car to Congleton, which is about an hour's drive from Preston. A first road trip for Elder Han and his companion seen driving in the above pic.

First time playing the Organ due to assignment to play at the Preston Stake Conference
Week 22 (26 Nov 2012)
I was assigned to play the organ for the Priesthood Leadership Session as well as the Sunday Session, which was hilarious. Who would've thought that I'd be playing the organ on my Mission!

First usage of his drawing/cartooning talent on his mission
I I've also been put in charge of overseeing and organizing an upcoming Chinese Activity that will be held in December. I decided to put my pre-Mission talents to use and so I designed the invitations cards (there are 4 designs below). I'm glad I brought my drawing equipment with me!

Another new Elder to be trained as Christmas approaches
Week 24 (10 Dec 2012)
This week he will begin training a new Chinese-speaking missionary. His name is Elder Greenland and he will be flying in from the Provo MTC  the next day. Elder Zavala, Elder Greenland and Elder Chong will then serve as a trio until the end of the current transfer cycle.

First find of Chinese shops that sell food products from Malaysia 
He says 'I found 2 Chinese shops in Preston that sell products from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and so on! They have things like curry spices, Roti Canai and so on! I can't wait to get my hands on those ingredients while shopping today >:) I might try cooking laksa for Elder Greenland's first meal in the flat hehe. I'm not going to be able to speak any English either ^^,'

Starting to hear a lot of Christmas music
Week 25 (17 Dec 2012)
We are so excited for Christmas! We're starting to hear a lot of Christmas music around us, and it really gets me into the festive mood! The crisp, chilly weather is actually nice (as long as it isn't raining, of course). I doubt we'll have a White Christmas here in Preston though.

He talks about the two missionary companions under his training. First on Elder Greenland who is from Arizona, 'He lived in Shanghai for 4 years in the past, so he has a decent grasp of Chinese already. He is currently serving in a trio together with Elder Zavala and me, and his new missionary traits are very apparent, which is quite amusing :P

Elder Zavala has changed so much compared to when he first arrived! He has become a fantastic missionary and we've become very unified in our companionship. He is also really great at building friendships with people and has a talent for getting meal appointments with both members and investigators alike haha.

First Christmas in the UK, a pictorial and video report
Week 26 (24 Dec 2012) Captions are from Elder Chong

Elder Zavala, Elder Greenland and I :)

The Christmas Eve celebration at the member's home :)

My contribution to the Christmas Eve dinner at the members' home. I cooked stir-fried tofu with onions, Chinese cabbage with garlic, mushrooms and fu zhok, and a mixture of trimmed beans, peppers, corn and prawn mixed with olive butter :) The others brought fried rice, tong shui (prepared by Sister Loh from Singapore!) and pizza. Hence, we basically had a Chinese Christmas Eve Dinner!

Unwrapping my presents on Christmas Day

Opening the package I got from the Clementi Ward! I'll be writing them soon!

An investigator took us to an Indian restaurant :)

Flat ties! (we all bought the same tie at a store)

Fashion show in the flat after our Boxing Day shopping

Me in my new suit hehe :D

Elder Chong's summary of his Christmas celebration  : 'So for this festive season, we had Christmas Eve (which coincided with P-day), Christmas Day and Boxing Day off, followed by half a day off on New Year's Eve and a day off for New Years' Day. During this period of time we went to a total of 6 members' homes, ate an insane amount of food, watched about 8 approved movies and bought lots of new clothes thanks to the massive discounts as a result of the Boxing Day Sale (we went shopping for 6 hours on Boxing Day haha).

It's been a most wonderful Christmas, and I have to say that the biggest highlight was being able to speak to all of you on Google+ on Christmas Day! That was truly a blessing of technology! :D'

First online family reunion with Elder Chong in the UK
25 Dec 2012 Christmas Day

Listen to his new British accent in a Google+ Hangout session with family members who gathered from 7 locations

3rd Quarter (another 13 weeks)
Week 27 (2 Jan 2013)

Elder Han has finished 26 weeks or a total of 2 quarters or 6 months. He reports, "I've completed a quarter of my Mission now and I'm beginning a full year of missionary work in 2013. I've been assigned to stay in Preston for another transfer (6 weeks) and I'm really excited, because I am certain that we'll be able to help many people come unto Christ in Preston and help the Lord bring many of His children to the waters of baptism and beyond :)"

First Baptism for the New Year 2013
Week 28 (7 Jan 2013)

He reports, "This week, I was blessed to begin the year 2013 by attending the baptism of yet another person I taught in Manchester! Her name is Lindy and she is also a Zhang! I should invite her to do some genealogy work hehe.

She was found when I was serving with Elder Cai back in Manchester several months ago. We were at the bus stop waiting for a bus and she and her friends came to wait for the bus. I first approached her friend, Ted who told us they weren't interested, but Lindy came up and spoke to me. Minutes later we were on the bus and I began teaching them on the bus. The next day we bumped into Ted again and he invited us over to his home, where Lindy and some other friends were staying. Since then, they've been having missionaries over and Lindy has been inviting her friends to learn more. 3 of them, including Ted, came for her baptism! :)"

He informs us of the transfer of Elder Zavala, "Elder Zavala is now serving in another trio - this time in Lancaster with a French Elder and a German Elder (the German Elder happens to be the cousin of my 2nd MTC companion, Elder Gabler - he also took care of me on the day that I received word that Mom had passed away). Elder Zavala has a special assignment in Lancaster - to re-open the Chinese work in Lancaster! We're all very excited for this transfer :)"

There was a zone meeting during the week where the missionaries made a Zone flag seen above. It says "The Preston 5", because the Zone has set a goal for 5 baptisms this month. It is noted that in the following week, the Zone ended up with 13 people Dated for Baptism, meaning that 13 people are preparing to be baptised on a specific date! There seems to be a heightened spirit spirit of Missionary Work as can be read in the following weeks' account.

Experience of Miracles in Missionary work as members came to help out the full time missionaries
Week 29 (14 Jan 2013)

The following stories are the accounts of Elder Chong's experience in doing missionary work where names of individuals have been changed to protect their identity :

"Early last week, one of the members told us about a Chinese convert named Rover-Rolled-Over (names ridiculously changed to protect the privacy of individuals), who had gone back to China and had not been heard of since. However, one of the members had seen him in Preston and informed the member who told us about it. We had never met Rover-Rolled-Over before, but we found his Less Active teaching record in our file - the last entry was in early 2012. We prayed that we would be able to get in touch with him somehow, and God led us right to him.

A few days after finding out about Rover-Rolled-Over we were out finding in the university when we approached a group of Chinese people. Two of the people recognised me from a previous encounter and we struck up a conversation. They were on their way to take a look at a flat that they were considering renting. We felt prompted to follow them, so we did (and they didn't mind). We arrived at the flat, where two property agents led everyone in and began to introduce the place and discuss the booking and rental of flats. Towards the end, one of the property agents turned to us and asked us if we were from the Church. He then introduced himself as Rover-Rolled-Over  What a miracle! We had a conversation about his conversion, how the Church was like in China, and how he's been too busy to come to Church lately. He would like to come to Preston Ward again, but his hectic work schedule takes him all around England.

According to Elder Greenland, while I was having the conversation with Rover-Rolled-Over, one of the Chinese people among the group who came to see the flat was apparently listening intently. Later on as everyone was leaving, we felt prompted to speak to the man, who said that I had spoken to him in the past, and re-introduced himself as Strawberry Cake. He wanted to be friends with us and invited us over to cook dinner with him the following week!

Here is another experience :
We brought our investigator, Electric Zebra to a dinner appointment we had with a member family. They treated us to the classic English Roast Dinner, which was the first time for Electric Zebra (who is from China). After the meal we shared a spiritual message with the family, and we had prepared the message specifically for their young children. I wrote a story about a little girl who loved her little brother, and as I read the story out to them, the children would raise little drawings of the characters when I mentioned the names. The children loved it. As we were on our way out, Electric Zebra turned to Elder Greenland and I and said that she was finally able to see that families are truly at the heart of our religion and beliefs. I couldn't agree more! We have no doubt that Electric Zebra was able to feel the Spirit in that wonderful member's home! "

From Han, "As you can see, our District is now Elders-only ever since Sister Loh and her companion got "whitewashed out" (it means that both companions leave an area at the same time). We have a French, a German, an English, a Brazilian, a Malaysian, and 4 Americans - one of whom we consider Mexican (Elder Zavala haha)."

First experience of snowfall in the UK
"It started snowing during sacrament meeting yesterday. However, the snow simply melted as soon as it reached the ground. It started snowing harder in the evening when we were out proselyting, so I literally had a taste of snow haha. It's back to rain again today though :P"

Week 30 (21 Jan 2013)
In the following week of the first snow fall experience, he reports " It's been snowing on and off in Preston this past week, but the snow today was by far the heaviest I've seen here in England (the American Elders rated it a 4/10 in terms of intensity compared to what they'd get back home). It's still a fresh experience for me! ".

Snowfights and keeping warm in winter
Week 31 (28 Jan 2013)
In a remarkable display of classic, temperamental English weather last week, Preston has seen rapid changes between snowfall and rainfall during the past week. The temperature has fluctuated between -1 degrees Celcius to almost 8 degrees Celcius within the week. There was one day that Elder Greenland and I were out proselyting and getting smacked in the face from snowfall (that was painful), only to get drenched in the rain less than an hour later.

Speaking of getting smacked in the face with snow, we've had snowballs thrown at us at well, which was surprisingly a perfect missionary opportunity ^^, Apparently some people are more willing to talk to us after we've had an impromptu snowball fight.

I've been able to keep sufficiently warm for the most part. Our flat has pretty good heating, and I sleep next to the radiator, so no worries there. I've not been too cold while out proselyting either, and if I do get any colder I can just replace the waistcoat (American: vest) I wear under my suit with a sweater, which I've not had to do yet. I bought a pretty good windbreaker/rain jacket when I first came to England and I've been using it ever since. The thermals I've bought here in England have done a great job keeping my legs warm, and I have room to wear extra layers of socks if I need to. My shoes are waterproof too, so my feet have actually stayed quite dry throughout my mission so far. I bought a scarf a few months ago, and found some earmuffs in the flat, so they keep my head and neck warm. I've not had to wear the beanie my friends gave me before I left. I bought a pair of gloves to keep my hands warm, but I have to take them off frequently to write or use the phone. All in all I would say that I'm keeping quite warm :) To be honest, keeping warm here in England seems to be a lot easier than staying cool in sunny Singapore haha.

Cooking a meal for the first time for the Mission President and the President's first ever home cooked Chinese meal.
During the week I had an opportunity to cook for my Mission President, President Preston. We were previously informed that President had allocated a day to come proselyte with missionaries from our district. We had previously planned a tea (dinner) appointment with one of our investigators for that day, during which I would cook a Chinese/Malaysian meal for the investigator to celebrate her 21st birthday. We managed to arrange to bring along President Preston and a Ward missionary :D The tea appointment turned out to be President Preston's first ever home-cooked Chinese meal! I cooked some classic tofu with onions, chinese cabbage with mushrooms, fu zhok & tao pok, and chicken rendang (using one of the packets from Sujie and Jay's package). Our investigator prepared the rice and dessert. It was a hearty meal :) President Preston seemed to enjoy it very much!

Another exchange at Lancaster and Sports Day
Week 32 (5 Feb 2013) All accounts and captions for photos are by Elder Chong in his own words :
Last week I went on an exchange for a few days in Lancaster, where I got to serve in a trio with Elder Zavala and Elder Gabler again! Elder Zavala is on a special assignment to re-open the Chinese work in Lancaster, and I had the opportunity to find and teach a number of Chinese students in Lancaster. It was great! On the second day of our exchange, Elder Gabler went on a split with a member to contact a family who submitted their address on Mormon.org to have missionaries meet them.

Hence, Elder Zavala and I were once again "back to back, casting out demons" together, as we used to joke about :P

We had a tea appointment with a Ward member in Lancaster, and he told me that he frequented a Malaysian restaurant in Lancaster, and that he loved Mee Goreng. He brought us to the restaurant for lunch the next day, and we ordered Mee Goreng and Malaysian-style Hainanese Chicken Rice. It was a great meal. The member introduced us to the owner of the restaurant, who is from Tai Ping. Coincidentally (or not), she was also the sister of the Malaysian man I met in Preston who owns the Chinese grocery stores! What a small world! 

We also had Sports Day in our mission last week. Basically, we got together to play sports. I had some fun playing badminton with Elder Gabler and Elder Zavala, and later got thrashed by Elder Kulygin (from Russia) in a game of chess. I later found out that he was a ranked player in his hometown in Russia.

This is a photo of some of the missionaries who entered the field at the same time as I did. Some interesting characters include Elder Kulygin, the Russian Elder in the striped shirt (mentioned earlier), and Elder Bytheway, who is 2nd from the right in the back row. His Uncle is the John Bytheway.

On the day before Chinese New Year, Elder Greenland and I volunteered at the Harris Museum in Preston. They were having a community activity in conjunction with some of the Chinese professors and students at the University. We were teaching one of the students involved and she told us about the activity, so we showed up and helped man stations throughout the museum. Basically, members of the community brought their families to try out some traditional Chinese activities. Here are the photos!

I had a go at Chinese Brush Painting. I later did a few caricatures of people but I didn't keep any of them :(

One of the Chinese students we volunteered with

Can't remember what that was called, but basically I put together different shapes to make outlines of various things. A fun puzzle!

Elder Greenland was really good at Jianzi!

First Accident at the Harris Museum..... hopefully the last!

I sprained my ankle while volunteering in the Harris Museum in Preston when I tripped over something. I didn't realise that I sprained it until a few days later when Elder Roberts pointed out a massive bruise below my ankle. I went to the hospital in Liverpool to get it checked out. I now wear an elastic "tube" around my right foot to help it heal.

Let my experience be a lesson to all parents who tell their children not to play sports because they might hurt themselves, and that they should do something safer instead, like go to a museum. Well, I sprained my ankle in a museum!

Transfer to Liverpool for the first time with the calling as a District Leader during the Chinese Lunar New Year festive period
Week 33 (14 Feb 2013) He writes in his letter :

Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Valentine's Day!

I just got transferred to Liverpool! I served in Preston for a total of 3-and-a-half transfers, which translates into 5 months, which is nearly a quarter of my Mission. What an amazing experience it was.

Farewell pics from Preston :

One of the Chinese students we taught previously cooked a meal for us when he found out that I was leaving Preston!

I took a photo with Angelo, a jolly convert from Italy who was a professional pianist! He calls me Bruce Lee :P

A photo of me and Ben, our amazing Ward Mission Leader in the Preston Ward, who is a solid convert of 3 years :)

Elder Herrin and I outside the Preston Football Stadium

I had one more mooncake left from when Mom send me a box of 4 last September. I finally ate the last one with my flatmates!

The England Preston Temple in the snow!

This transfer I’ve been given a new calling as a District Leader, which means that I am responsible for the welfare and missionary work of the other missionaries in my District. My District in Liverpool has a total of 8 missionaries, which is pretty big! We also have 2 Chinese-speaking Sisters in our District, Sister Embley and Sister Smith, who are serving in the same area as Elder Hawks and me. Clearly there’s a lot of work to be done among the Chinese people here in Liverpool!

First Full Week in Liverpool
Week 35 (25 Feb 2013)
My new responsibilities as a District Leader has also been quite interesting. Each night I take calls from every companionship in the District. During these calls they report on missionary work, and I then report to the Zone Leaders later during the night. It is a great opportunity for me to get to know each of the missionaries in the District, and also to see how the Lord's hand is truly manifest in the work that we do! Tomorrow I'll be holding my first District Meeting, which is basically an hour and a half. Basically we'll discuss missionary work and give trainings to each other to improve our skills. It's going to be great!

Me with my current companion in Liverpool - Elder Hawks! He speaks really good Chinese!

There are many Chinese converts in the Liverpool Ward as Elder Chong reports, "We have a good number of Chinese converts in the Ward and I've been visiting each of them to get to know them and also get to know how they came to receive the Restored Gospel. Their experiences are really inspiring! I mentioned to a fair number of them that if we have enough Chinese members, we might be able to start a Chinese branch in Liverpool. Many of them had a gleam in their eyes :)

One of the Chinese members in our Ward speaks Cantonese! She's been teaching me a bit. I have to say, my Cantonese has improved quite a bit since I came out on my mission. I'm now able to introduce myself as a Malaysian missionary, and then invite people to check out our website haha! The Cantonese-speaking member is teaching me how to set up appointments with people and exchange phone numbers. An interesting note: one of our recent converts, who is also a Zhang, said that Shuan's and my Chinese names are very well chosen. She was very impressed with Mom's choice of names for us! :)

By the way, I ran into a group of Malaysians in Liverpool recently. There's a lot of them studying here! In fact - I found someone I know from Tsun Jin! She used to play the Clarinet in the Wind Orchestra as well. What a small world!"

Abel's Baptism in Liverpool
Week 36 (4 Mar 2013)

We had a baptism this week! We were blessed to have the baptism of Abel, a student from Beijing. We had some fun with him on our Preparation Day a few days before his baptism when we took him out shopping to get him a suit and some ties. He had never worn ties before and wasn't sure if he liked suits or ties. We picked 2 ties for him, one of which we thought was very suitable for his character. A few days later, when Elder Hawks visited him while I was away on an exchange, he said that he loved ties now and begged us to take him tie shopping again on our next P-Day haha!

Abel trying on a suit (and accessories) when we went shopping with him last P-Day

Abel and I and Elder Hawks at the baptism

Abel is amazing! He understands the Book of Mormon very well and wants to spend as much time as possible learning from us. He is so full of faith and has made a lot of changes in his life as he received the Restored Gospel. His friends noticed his changes and he invited a few of them to his baptism!

The Chinese people and missionaries who attended Abel's baptism! :D

News of the New Email Policy
Week 37 (11 Mar 2013)

Elder Chong writes, "This week we received an exciting piece of news - there has been an announcement on a new, worldwide policy on missionaries and email - all missionaries are now authorised to email friends!

This means that I am now allowed to email my friends. The only exception to the policy so far is that I have to obtain permission from my Mission President to email anyone of the opposite gender who lives within mission boundaries. What wonderful news!"

This means family members and friends of Elder Chong can now write to him using woon.chong@myldsmail.net This is the only email address he can use during his mission which ends on 28 June 2014. He cannot use any other email address or internet channel to communicate with the outside world. This means he would not be allowed to use his previous personal email address nor access internet websites outside those that belong to the Church so emails should not contain any other website links. Previously only immediate family members could write to him but with this new policy, his friends or extended family members can now write to him and in return most likely to receive his general email  that is sent out once a week on his rest or preparation day which is usually on Mondays. It would be difficult for him to custom reply privately to every individual sender as the window of time given to him each Monday to access the internet is maximum about an hour.

His first interview of a person preparing to be baptized
He further wrote, "Also this past week I had an opportunity as District Leader to interview someone who was preparing to be baptised. His name is Ash and he was taught by two of the missionaries in my District. He was baptised on Saturday. What a joy!

We were also able to have Abel, our recent Chinese convert, teach a lesson with us. He shared his life story of how he sought answers through science since he was a child, and how he felt that science could not explain the 'why' very often. When he came across the Restored Gospel, it resonated within him and answered all of the questions he had. It was a very powerful testimony!"

He posted the following photos that bear his own captions :

Elder Hawks and I found A&W Root Beer in a Chinese supermarket (you can't find Root Beer anywhere else in England) so we treated ourselves and 2 of our Recent Converts to Root Beer floats :D

We went on a brief tour of Albert Dock, Liverpool, as a District earlier today. Here's a bench and statue dedicated to all the lonely people of Liverpool.

We had some fun with some statues of the Beatles

Companionship Photo for Elder Hawks and me :)

District Photo! We had a District Meeting which our Mission President & Wife, President Preston and Sister Preston, attended.

Yesterday was England's Mothers' Day. A member named Sam invited all of the missionaries in the Ward to have tea with her and her mother, Beryl. Both of them are converts to the Church 19 years ago, and they love the missionaries. They take care of us very well! We call them our missionary moms :) The first photo is of us with Beryl, and the second photo is of us with Sam

Another District Photo at the Albert Docks.

This statue is suspected to represent the early Mormon converts who left England from Liverpool to sail to America to help build the Church!

Another Miracle, an impression by the spirit 
Week 38 (18 Mar 2013)

He writes, "Last week, Elder Hawks and I had a few minutes to street contact before an appointment one day, and we followed an impression to turn into a particular area. We spoke to a Chinese student named Dinosaur Cookie (name ridiculously changed), and as we spoke to him, he said that he had an interest in learning more. Unfortunately, we had to rush off to our appointment, so we set up another time to meet him. After we parted ways, Elder Hawks and I turned to each other and shared how we both felt very strongly that he has been prepared by the Lord to meet us. We visited him the next day with our Recent Convert Abel, and had a wonderful lesson. Dinosaur Cookie brought a friend along! We invited them to Church the next day, and they said they would consider. We put Abel in charge of contacting them the next morning, and Dinosaur Cookie did come to Church.

We visited Dinosaur Cookie after Church and had a brief lesson. He told us that he really enjoyed Church, that he felt a very special warmth and peace at Church. He said that he had gone with the intention of simply satisfying his curiosity, but the feelings he had at Church has sparked a desire to learn much more. When we invited him to be baptised, he said that he is strongly considering it, but he would like some time to think so that he can make a proper decision. He told us that he would need about a week or two. A week or two! Elder Hawks and I were astounded! Most Chinese people feel that they need months, if not years! We promised to help him gain a better understanding, and he was willing to meet us every day if possible. We are very excited for him!"

He posted the following photos with his captions :

I found this post-it note when I came back from an exchange. It was from the Elder who took my place when I was in the other area. I thought it was hilarious, because it reminded me of Goldilocks haha. (to the Elder's credit, the bedsheet had already been ripped before the exchange, although I have no idea how it happened)

I had an exchange with Elder Fletcher, a missionary from Canada! He made me "poutine" which is a classic Canadian dish according to him. It consists of chips (thick fries) topped with grated cheese and gravy. It was delicious

Speaking of delicious, Elder Hawks and I had 2 tea appointments with Chinese students last week:

We celebrated a recent convert's birthday. One of the Chinese members cooked Tao Pok!!!!

On Sunday, a Chinese member from Hainan fed us Hainanese Chicken Rice! He had been planning to cook it for me ever since I asked him if he knew how to cook it hehe.

Today is the last P-day of the transfer (*gasp*) so we did some deep cleaning in the flat. We defrosted the fridge, and this was the massive block of ice we extracted from the fridge!

Some other exciting adventures I had last week:
Elder Hawks and I tracted a Chinese takeaway. We had a great conversation with the woman who owned the place with her husband, and she gave us free food! We used to have an Elder in our mission from Hong Kong who would often get free food whenever he tracted Chinese takeaways because the owners would be from his hometown in Hong Kong haha. It was the first time I got free food like that though!

Elder Fletcher and I tracted another Chinese takeaway. We also had a great conversion with another woman who owned the place with her husband, and she invited us to play badminton with her some time soon!

In both instances I had to use a mix of very simple Mandarin, my Cantonese (which is worse) and a little bit of English to communicate with the takeaway owners, who were Cantonese.

It's snowing again!
Week 39 (27 Mar 2013)

So apparently it has started snowing again here in Liverpool. I woke up one morning last week and looked out the window, and this is what I saw:

The snow just barely finished melting yesterday, but it has started snowing again today. The weather does whatever it wants to here. 

He elaborates on details of their missionary work :

"This past week has been amazing! We're starting a new transfer and both Elder Hawks and I are staying in Liverpool together. The Easter holidays have kicked in, and many Chinese students in the University are away on vacations, but the Lord has blessed us with Chinese families to share the Gospel with!

Last week I had an exchange with Elder Johnston in Crosby. During the exchange, Elder Johnston and I had a tea appointment with a member, and following that we proselyted in the area before our next appointment. As we were walking down the street (trying) to talk to people, I noticed a Chinese takeaway, and we went in and spoke to the owner. She introduced herself as Yellow Armadillo (name ridiculously changed) and we had a wonderful conversation. She is Cantonese, but speaks decent Mandarin with a little bit of Cantonese unconsciously weaved in. She has 6 children! They are all between the ages of 2 to 10, so she is a very busy mother. She said that she has been visited by another church for a while, and that they had been teaching her children about the Bible. At that point two of her sons came out to meet us - they were about the ages of 5 and 7. They said their most favourite book was the Bible! Yellow Armadillo was happy to meet us and gave us some free chips, and welcomed us to visit her home the following week. When I asked her where she stayed, we found out that she lives near our chapel in Liverpool! What a miracle! Elder Hawks and I had a great visit with her yesterday. She had several questions about God, which we answered with much help from the Book of Mormon and the Bible. She desires to know how we can belive in God even though we can't see Him. With the help of the Spirit, we'll surely be able to help her answer that question! The Lord has truly blessed us with the Chinese family we have been seeking to share the gospel with!

About 2 weeks ago Elder Hawks and I also spoke to a Chinese woman in our flat complex. We found out she was from Malaysia! She used to be from another church in Malaysia but when she cam e to England, she attended another church that taught her different things. Apparently her new church does not believe in the Trinity, which she had believed in previously. That was a great opportunity for us to share about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! She knows about us Mormons and we'll be visiting her later this week! Exciting!
Does anyone remember Dinosaur Cookie from last week's email? He is a Chinese student whom Elder Hawks and I found based on a prompting, and after we set an appointment with him we felt that he had been prepared by the Lord to accept the Restored Gospel. Well, between the last time I mentioned him and now, he has finished reading all of the introduction section of the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi, 4 Nephi, Mormon, Ether, Moroni, Matthew and Mark. He absolutely loves reading the scriptures! In fact, he has taught himself the Law of Chastity based on Matthew 5:28 which says "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." He has also been cutting down on smoking even before he met us. During a lesson Elder Hawks had with him while I was away on exchange, Conrad shared that in the past, he had been involved in what the Book of Mormon would describe as riotous living. Eventually, however, he came to a realisation that these things were not bringing him true happiness in life. He told Elder Hawks that he feels that we have "saved" him. What a wonderful miracle!"

A couple of days ago Elder Hawks and I were reminded of the power of "ask, and ye shall receive". We went tracting in an area a few weeks ago and spoke to a Chinese student. He had met missionaries before, and we asked if he could have us over for dinner some time. He agreed and that's how we ended up at his place a few days ago with a delicious meal. He and his flatmate had actually prepared the day before we came over by trying a recipe for fish. It was successful, and so they made it for us when we came over. It was delicious! I made our family favourite corn soup (which Elder Hawks loved) and a hastily strewn together chicken and fu zhok dish with the help of some of the packet seasonings Sujie and Jay sent last Christmas. We had a great time :) We even found that one of our hosts is a friend of one of our Chinese members!

I know a lot of the photos of food I email home make me look like I've been eating very luxuriously as a missionary. Well, here's an example of something Elder Hawks and I had to quickly throw together more than once when we were either pressed for time or were running out of fresh ingredients.

4th Quarter (another 13 weeks)
Happy Easter in Liverpool
Week 40 (3 Apr 2013)

Elder Chong reports, "Remember Yellow Armadillo? (name ridiculously changed as usual) We went over to her home a second time last week, and when we left, she loaded us with food! She gave us 8 eggs, 2 bottles of water, 4 packets of instant noodles, 3 oranges, ginger, and a fish.

Elder Hawks and I have no idea how we're even going to cook it, since we don't have the means to steam it.We might bake it or something. She even told us that we can call her takeaway any time we're hungry haha!

On Sunday, she brought 3 of her 6 children to Church. We started off with Primary/Elders Quorum/Relief Society first, so her children attended Primary. They were really shy, (which was completely opposite to what they were like when we visited them in their home) so Elder Hawks and I sat in with them in Primary to help them feel comfortable. The Primary President had me play the piano for them as a result haha. Unfortunately, the family was unable to stay for Sacrament Meeting, but we look forward to meeting them again!

Another Miracle
Last Friday, Elder Hawks and I had a prompting to walk into a Chinese store. We heeded the prompting, though we weren't quite sure what we were supposed to do there. I started showing Elder Hawks various Chinese spices (which I really didn't know anything about hahaha) when a Chinese woman working at the store came up to us and asked us if we were representatives of Jesus Christ. We got a little worried there because we thought she was about to kick us out of the store. Thankfully, it turned out that she was a Christian convert from China and had been looking for a Church in England. She felt prompted to speak to us, and so we set up an appointment to visit her and her family. We visited her yesterday and it was great! We had to explain that our Church was a little different, and she agreed to read the Book of Mormon. If everything works out well we should be able to meet her again next week. When Elder Hawks and I shared with her that God had led us to the store that day, she told us that she had felt prompted to speak to us as well, and so she was very happy that God had brought us together. What a miracle! Heavenly Father is blessing Elder Hawks and me with more families to teach!

Last week, the Sisters in my District lamented how Elders get more tea appointments than Sisters do. That came as a complete surprise to us Elders, because all this while we thought that it was the other way round. We Elders are under the impression that members generally like Sisters more than Elders and want to take care of them more. The Sisters said that on the contrary, 1. members generally think that Elders are terrible cooks and that's why they need to be fed! Moreover, 2. Elders can get away with being cheeky and asking people to feed us whereas Sisters can't. 3. The Sisters also insist that Elder Hawks and I are much better chefs than they are, hence point number 1 is not true, and the members should feed the Sisters instead.

Well, Elder Hawks and I decided to do the Sisters a favour, so we organised a massive tea appointment for Chinese students and missionaries at our Recent Convert Abel's flat. We ended up having 10 people at his place on Sunday evening, comprising 3 Chinese recent converts, 3 Chinese investigators, 2 Elders and 2 Sisters. Elder Hawks and I cooked 2 dishes (I prepared Mom's classic corn soup while Elder Hawks prepared his Mom's lemon Parmesan rice dish), while Abel and Emil (who is from Yun Nan) cooked several other dishes. We had a spectacular time! Elder Hawks and I taught our investigator before cooking, the Sisters taught their investigator while we were cooking, and at the end, Elder Hawks and I taught a brief lesson on the Atonement and Easter before we all left. It was wonderful!

The 4 Chefs of the evening :)

The whole group!

The food! We had Ma Poh Tau Foo, potatoes, baked fish and broccoli & pork by Abel, and a pork dish, mushroom dish, and Hainanese Chicken rice by Emil (he learnt it from Larry, who prepared Hainanese Chicken rice for us a couple of weeks ago). Mmmmm...

Checking out The Great Space, a massive Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool
On Monday, we had a District outing around Liverpool. We went to check out the massive Anglican cathedral named The Great Space. We took an elevator up to the top to have a great view of the city of Liverpool.

In the elevator with our Zone Leaders

The view from the top. I tilted it to make it look like I'm on a plane - I should send the photo to my Mission President and tell him I've decided to go home early haha.

Down some steps to the elevator shaft

There was an arch within the cathedral nicknamed the Whispering Wall where, if you stood at one end of the arch (where the Sisters in the photo are) and someone else stood at the other end (where Elder Hawks and I were) you could speak to the wall and be able to hear each other clearly thanks to an ingenuous play on acoustics.

We went to Chinatown after our trip to the Cathedral. There wasn't much going on, so we just took a photo with the iconic Chinatown arch with the member who takes us out on tours of Liverpool every now and then.

Yesterday, Elder Hawks and I had a packed day, and during the day we had some last minute changes in our schedule, and we were about to sacrifice dinner time in favour of going to another appointment, but Abel stepped in and saved us. We had just finished teaching an investigator at his flat, so he invited us to stay at his flat and cook using his food. Of course, we'd have to cook some for him as well, but how could we say no? We would not have been able to go back to our flat to cook because of travelling time, so I whipped up a quick Chinese meal while Elder Hawks wrote a missionary report.

Remembering Mom's Birthday
Week 41 (9 April 2013)

It's a special week not just because of being Elder Chong's Mom's birthday but also his companion's birthday and the miracles that occurred during the week are all included in his letter with photos attached :

"Today is my dear companion Elder Hawks' birthday! Many wonderful things happened leading up to this week.

I certainly did not forget that it was Mom's birthday last week as well. Thank you, Sujie, for that wonderful email about commemorating Mom's birthday! I had quite a number of miracles on the 4th of April myself! Mom was working hard behind the scenes to help us out that day.

On the morning of the 4th of April, Elder Hawks and I began our companionship study with a prayer as usual. During the prayer we asked Heavenly Father to help us get in touch with Yellow Armadillo and Enigmatic Cat (another investigator whose name has been ridiculously changed). We've been trying to contact each of them recently but we haven't been able to get a hold of them. Immediately after the prayer we felt prompted to call Yellow Armadillo - and she picked up the phone immediately! We set up an appointment for the next day. After the phone call, Elder Hawks and I immediately got on our knees and thanked God for such a quick response to our prayer. Later during the day, as we were having Weekly Planning in our flat, we spotted Enigmatic Cat (the Malaysian mother I wrote about last week). We immediately ran out to speak to her, and set up an appointment for the next day as well. That was another answer to our prayer. As a bonus that day, while Elder Hawks and I were cooking lunch, we received a phone call from a potential investigator - Salted Fries. Salted Fries was a friend of a Chinese recent convert. The recent convert has since moved back to China, but he contacted another member who is still in Liverpool and gave us Salted Fries' number, saying that his friend was interested in learning the Gospel. We called Salted Fries earlier during the week, and sure enough - she was interested. However, she was away from Liverpool for a bit and wasn't sure when she could meet us. Well, on Mom's birthday she called us and set up an appointment with us! For the latter half of the week, Elder Hawks and I were booked completely with appointments. It was crazy. We had to run everywhere. It was amazing! It is always a real blessing to be a missionary packed with appointments.

As a missionary, it has actually been a wonderful opportunity for me to share my experience of Mom's passing. Having left for my Mission knowing fully well that I may not see Mom again in this life, I had made a sacrifice that God has blessed me greatly for. I always share my testimony of the love of God with people, especially how He helped me cope with Mom's passing, and how He, in His great love and mercy, gave me an opportunity to speak to Mom just hours before her passing. Mom's passing has in no way distracted me from my calling as a missionary. If anything, it has only strengthened my resolve to work harder - to bring more people to the same hope in Christ that I have. Thanks for all your loving support and prayers!"

Comments from Elder Chong's father : The post of the time of him leaving can be viewed here and the account of him speaking to Mom recorded before her passing in the post here (under sub-title, "Mom's Last Two Days, Nov 5 and 6")

He posted the following photos:

Our investigator who is preparing to be baptised took us to a Chinese restaurant! We were treated to a Cantonese cuisine. We had soft shell crabs, prawns, Canton-style roast duck, Mah Poh Tofu, and so on. 

We even had Kangkung Belachan! They called it Malayan vegetables or something haha. 

We had a surprise birthday celebration for Elder Hawks when we went to teach a Chinese family!

One of the kids from a Chinese family we're teaching drew a portrait of me during General Conference on Sunday

A photo of the lunch Elder Hawks prepared for me one day (I added a sausage)

Another Amazing Week packed with appointments
Week 42 (15 Apr 2013)

Elder Hawks and I had another amazing week! Our schedule was completely packed! We were greatly blessed to have a new investigator named Kinder Bueno (name ridiculously changed). Kinder Bueno is a biology student from China and we first met him a couple of weeks ago on our way to an appointment with Abel, our recent convert. It was snowing quite heavily and we noticed a Chinese student who reminded us of Abel. We spoke to him, and he was quite friendly towards us. Upon finding out that he studies Biology, we asked him if that influenced his view on God. He said that studying Biology made him think about the meaning of life and death. To him, Biology can explain the process of life and death, but it does not really provide a purpose or meaning to it. We excitedly offered to help him find these answers. Unfortunately we had an appointment to keep, so we weren't able to teach him on the spot. We offered to set up an appointment, but he said that he was about to travel for the Easter holidays. He left us his phone and email address, and we promised to meet up after his vacation.

Early last week we phoned Kinder Bueno, and he remembered us. We set up an appointment for Tuesday, and we met him every day of the week since then. He is great! We have been able to help him find a lot of answers by teaching him the Plan of Salvation directly from the Book of Mormon. He has been able to see how much wisdom is contained in the Book of Mormon, and brings his Book of Mormon to all our appointments. His prayers are already improving, and in one of our most recent lessons with him, he prayed that he would be able to get an answer about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith so that he can be baptised. Now that the break has ended, Kinder Bueno proactively texted us his schedule yesterday so that we can find time to meet him this week. He came out with us one day to observe how we speak to people on the street, and he asked us how we deal with rejection. We asked him what made him stop to talk to us, and he said that he noticed how cheerful and friendly we were in spite of the heavy snow when we first met him. He said that when he saw our smiles he felt that we must surely have had something good to share. What a wonderful blessing it is to teach him!

We have also been having spiritually powerful lessons with Elusive Rose (name ridiculously changed). She is just about to finish reading through Alma 17-27. Elder Hawks and I assigned her to read those chapters for the past 2 weeks in order to learn the principles of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We have been visiting her almost every day to explain scriptures, discuss principles, and help her build her faith and testimony. It has worked amazingly well! She is now able to liken the scriptures to herself, and she was really impressed by the repentance of the Lamanites. She has done some repenting on her own and shared with her how she is striving to develop more patience. She loves our visits and would express mild disappointment when some of our follow-up visits last no longer than 15-20 minutes because of our packed schedule. She once prayed that we would have more time to meet with her longer! We have been helping her develop her faith a lot, and in our last lesson with her, we helped her realise how God has answered some of her prayers. The Spirit was so strong! We invited her to bring a question about baptism to Church yesterday, so we'll be following up on how that went when we visit her later today.

In the meantime, Conrad, previously referred to in my emails as Dinosaur Cookie, is continuing to move forward smoothly towards his baptism. He really sees the benefits of living the Gospel and has made huge changes from his past life. He shared with us how he still has cravings to smoke, but he has been fighting them. He had a close shave one day when his friend gave him a cigarette. Conrad told us that he was strongly tempted to smoke it, but he suddenly heard a very clear, distinct voice in his head telling him to put the cigarette away immediately. He obeyed the prompting and put the cigarette down. What a miracle! He has so much faith that the Lord will help him change, and the Lord is helping him indeed!

The Lord's work is really moving forward in Liverpool!

Photos for the week : 
As I mentioned last week, it was Elder Hawks' 20th birthday last Monday. We had a few more rounds of celebration with various members and investigators:

The feast prepared by some of our Chinese members and investigators!

Birthday donuts for Elder Hawks at a member's home

Conrad took us to a Sichuan restaurant!

Last night, we were blessed with the opportunity to attend the Mission Home Fireside, which is held once a month at our Mission President's home. Missionaries from all over the Mission bring investigators or recent converts to the fireside, where many recent converts share their experiences on how they gained their testimony. It was there that I was reunited with Elder Zavala! He is currently serving in Manchester, and he brought along Evangeline, a Chinese investigator who has been taught for about 2 years, and is preparing to be baptised next week! I was also able to reunite with Brother Hesketh, the Ward Mission Leader whom I served with in Preston! It was a great opportunity to catch up, and Elder Zavala and I were able to meet some of our previous investigators from Preston!

The young man on the left is Siti. He is from Thailand, and I spoke to him on the street twice while I was in Preston. We had exchanged phone numbers and had planned to meet up to cook some Thai and Malaysian food. Unfortunately I failed to contact him after that, but I included his phone number in the information that I passed to the missionaries who took over Preston after I left. They contacted him and started teaching him, and he is preparing to be baptised this weekend!!

Brother Hesketh and me :)

Left to right: Elder Zavala, myself, Jason. Jason is another miracle! Elder Zavala and I were out street contacting one night last December, and Jason was one of the people whom we spoke to. We taught him a brief lesson on the spot about God, and when we invited him to learn more with us by setting up an appointment, he said that he would think about it, and did not leave us any contact details. However, he accepted a passalong card from us. A few weeks later, the Zone Leaders whom we were staying with in Preston received a call from the Mission Office, saying that they had a Mormon.org referral for them. (Mormon.org referrals are contact details of people who access mormon.org and choose to leave their contact information so that missionaries can contact them). It turned out that Jason had taken a look at our passalong card and visited Mormon.org! He has been taught by the Zone Leaders in Preston for a few months now and is ready to be baptised as soon as he obtains permission from his uncle. He is even thinking of serving a mission! The best part is that Jason remembers Elder Zavala and I as the first missionaries he met ;D

Elder Zavala, Andrei, and me. Andrei was baptised in Preston a few years ago, and would help us teach investigators when we were serving in Preston.

Elder Zavala, myself, and Zoe. Elder Zavala and I taught Zoe for the longest time when we were together in Preston. She's still overcoming a lot of doubts about baptism, but we have a lot of faith in her!

Elder Zavala, Abel, and me.

Elder Zavala, myself, Elder Hare, and Elder Hawks. The three Elders besides myself came into the field at the same time. They entered the Provo MTC just a week after I entered the England MTC, so the four of us will be finishing our missions at the same time next year. I've served with Elder Zavala and I'm currently serving with Elder Hawks. We strongly suspect that I'll be serving with Elder Hare next transfer! Elder Hare is currently in Preston with my previous companion Elder Greenland. Meanwhile, Elder Zavala took Elder Hare's place in Manchester. The four of us have really grown a lot since we began serving our missions. It's always a delight for us to reunite!

Myself, Abel, Conrad, and Elder Hawks. Abel and Conrad loved the Mission Home Fireside! Abel was one of those who shared his experience of believing in God. We are so proud of him! Conrad is preparing to be baptised in about 2 weeks' time, and we hope that he can speak at the next Mission Home Fireside :D

Needless to say, Elder Hawks and I have had an amazing week! We're looking forward to the rest of this week too! 

Experience of 3 Nephites and a Kebab-tism!
Week 43 (23 Apr 2013)
This past week has been crazy. Elder Hawks and I have been insanely busy with all the appointments we've been blessed with this transfer. We've made a very good team here in Liverpool!

I had an exchange with Elder Bytheway last week. Elder Bytheway is the nephew of the John Bytheway, and he and I are from the same MTC group! It was great to finally have a chance to serve together during the exchange.

We had a very interesting experience during the exchange. Just as we arrived at the bus stop in the morning to head to an appointment, an elderly Englishman spoke to us and told us that 3 men had just spoken to him and had asked him for direction. He noted that they had foreign accents, and that he missed the bus because he was speaking to them. Just after they left, we arrived! As soon as he said that I felt impressed that the 3 men just might have been the 3 Nephites! We spoke to the man and got on the next bus with him. He got off before we did, and Elder Bytheway and I continued on. However, I was thinking about the perfect timing of our encounter, and I felt that we needed to speak to the man more. I expressed this to Elder Bytheway and he agreed to get off the bus with me at the very next stop and run all the way back to find the man. We caught up with him and started speaking to him again. His name was Bobby and he was a WWII veteran! He was going to a care centre to visit his wife who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. She doesn't remember who he is, but is able to remember that he visits her almost every day. We had a heartwarming conversation with him, and sadly, he did not have a desire to learn more about our message, I was a little bit troubled at the end of the encounter, because I wanted to know why God had brought us to him if he didn't accept our message. I then remembered a few lessons I had learnt previously:

1. Even if God brings us to people - perhaps even miraculously, He still gives these people the agency to choose whether or not they accept or reject the Gospel. However, their rejecting our message does not take away from the significance of the miraculous experiences. God reaches out to all of His children with love, and allows them to choose whether or not they accept that love. Nevertheless, "... his arm is extended to all people who will repent and believe on his name." (Alma 19:36) God, who "... maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45) expects us to treat all of His children with love, such that all may come to feel His love through us, His servants. How they choose to react is their own decision, which neither we nor God can take away.

2. What mattered most is that we as missionaries and the Lord's servants always heed His promptings and guidance no matter the outcome. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, even though God did not really want Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Yet, Abraham and obeyed, and although, as a result of last-minute angelic intervention, he did not quite achieve the perceived intended result - the sacrifice of Isaac - he had proven himself worthy of God's trust. Consequently, Abraham was able to receive infinte blessings through His covenant with God. As a missionary, I strongly believe that God may sometimes test us by prompting us to do certain things that may not bring immediate, visible, or even significant results. In these cases, we may not necessarily see any miraculous results by following these promptings, but we have shown God that we are obedient to Him at all times, even when we are not sure of neither the reason nor the outcome. By demonstrating this obedience, we then prepare ourselves to receive more of His blessings. After all, "blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." (Luke 11:28)

These thoughts ran through my head as Elder Bytheway and I made our way back to our intended destination. I was feeling a bit doubtful, for I had viewed the experience as an "unfruitful" encounter. However, I was quickly reassured that by following the prompting to speak to Bobby, I had allowed God to bring me to the right place at the right time.

Elder Bytheway and I arrived at the next bus stop and started speaking to a woman who was waiting for the bus. She had just arrived 5 minutes before us, and was taking her infant son out for the day. During our conversation we learnt that she was a family-oriented person, and believed very strongly in the importance of marriage, which is unfortunately on a general decline in England. It was a rarity to meet someone like her, and we could tell that both Elder Bytheway and I and the woman were uplifted by the conversation we had. She did not accept our offer to set up an appointment to share more of our message with her, but she accepted a passalong card. Regardless, both Elder Bytheway felt the Spirit confirm to us that our conversation had uplifted her, and I knew that our previous delay had allowed us to meet her. Hence, I was able to rest assured that I had not taken Elder Bytheway on a wild goose chase by running after Bobby haha.

I would like to share a miracle before going through the photos for the week.

Last week Elder Hawks and I taught a Chinese woman whom we had found based on a prompting from the Lord to walk into a Chinese supermarket (see Week 40's email). She shared with us an interesting experience she had:

Early on last week, she slipped and fell down the staircase in her home. She was hurting really badly and was very worried if it would affect her work. Just 5 minutes after she slipped, she received a phone call from us asking her how she was doing and when we could visit her again. She thought of telling us about her fall but didn't, and proceeded to set up an appointment with us. Right after the phone call, her pain went away, and did not bother her at all at work for the rest of the week! She saw it as a blessing from the Lord, because our phone call gave her comfort and even took away her pain!

It was also particularly interesting that the timing was so perfect, because we had actually tried to contact her the day before. However, we had mistakenly saved the wrong number on our phone, and so we were not able to reach her. On the day of her accident, we had just realised that we had saved the wrong number, and finally dialled the correct number by checking what we had written down previously. That was when we called her just after she slipped! Truly, "the Lord worketh in many ways to to the salvation of his people." (Alma 24:27) It seems that our incompetence can also help to fulfil God's purposes haha!

Photos This Week :

Abel cut his hair! He is holding a bag containing all the hair he cut off!

An English member invited us and 3 Chinese recent converts to have tea with them! They made "Scouse" which is not only refers to a native of Liverpool or their accent, but also to a kind of stew they make. It was delicious!

Larry, a Chinese convert who lived in Hainan for a while, prepared a feast and invited us, the Sisters, and other Chinese friends!

While Elder Bytheway and I were on exchange, we had a "picnic" with Sam, an amazing member of the Liverpool Ward who loves taking care of the missionaries. Since we have missionary rules that disallow us Elders from going into her home without fellowshippers, she brought out a table to eat right at her doorstep! 

We had some great sushi which she made!

All exchanges must end with exchange photos :

Elder Bytheway in his Spiderman onsie pyjamas!

We had a District Kebab-tism with Sam! Sam and the Sisters had never had a Kebab before, so we decided to Kebab-tise them today ;)

End of a transfer and Elder Chong gets to train a new companion
Week 44 (2 May 2013)

I just finished yet another transfer! Sadly, Elder Hawks is no longer my companion, and he has gone to Newcastle-under-Lyne to open up the Chinese work there with Elder Greenland, another one of my previous companions! On a side note, Sister Loh from Singapore has also been transferred to the same District as Elder Hawks to help open up the Chinese work there!

I am currently serving with a relatively new missionary named Elder Nelson. He is from Redlands, California and does not speak Chinese. I've been assigned by my Mission President to follow-up train him for the next 6 weeks. He's only been out on the mission field for about 5 weeks so far! I don't have any photos with him yet, so I'll have to send some next week!

This past week and a half, we have been blessed to attend 2 baptisms! The first was of a Chinese girl named Evangeline in Manchester! I once taught Evangeline when I first started serving in Manchester last year. She has been taught by missionaries on and off for nearly 3 years now! She finally had the courage to overcome her fears and doubts and was baptised last Thursday. So many of us missionaries who once taught her attended her baptism in Manchester! Later during the week we were blessed with the baptism of Jack, a Taiwanese student in Liverpool. He was taught by the Sister missionaries, and I had the opportunity to interview him for his baptism. He's great! He reminds me of Shuan as well haha.

I was prompted to call someone last week, and when she answered the phone, I asked her how her week was. She replied that she had, in fact, been having a very difficult week. She was very upset over some unfortunate turn of events, and I shared some verses from the Book of Mormon with her over the phone. They helped her a lot, and she said that she had actually spent the whole day wondering if she could call the missionaries to talk about her problem. What a blessing it was for me to be able to call her at that time and lend a listening ear!

Photos This Week :

I made fake mail for Elder Hawks - he received an enveloped packed with notes from the other missionaries in the District (and one of my ties that he liked a lot) from a fictitious girl named Clara Juliet Hanson, who lives in Idaho. I even extracted some American stamps from his old mail and stuck it on the envelope. He totally fell for it haha! He was too excited to receive mail that he didn't realise that the envelop had not been stamped by the post office.

Evangeline and I before her baptism

All the Chinese-speaking missionaries still in the Mission who previously taught Evangeline!

A little note I made for a Chinese recent convert to teach him how to baptise

Jack's baptism!

Chinese missionaries and a portion of the Chinese people who attended Church on Sunday.

We had a massive feast to send off Elder Hawks when we found out that he was getting transferred out!

Transfer day photos! Saying goodbye to many wonderful missionaries as they transferred to different areas

Acquiring his first Chinese Bible and another District Temple trip
Week 45 (7 May 2013)

Yesterday was a bank holiday (ie a Public Holiday) so I was not able to email (all the libraries were closed). I did, however, get to go on a trip to the Preston temple with my District! I felt so energised by the trip to the temple, and we had some great fun as a district.

This week I also finally got hold of a Chinese Bible! Our Church doesn't have the rights to print Bibles in Chinese, apparently, so we have to purchase Bibles from other organisations if we want them in Chinese. The Senior Couple in Manchester, Elder & Sister McArthur, whom I worked with while I was in Manchester, ordered a bunch from the Singapore Bible Society, and sent me one! (see P 001). Previously when I taught out of the Bible in Chinese, I would use my companion's Chinese Bible, which was the Hong Kong Bible Society version, which is Traditional Chinese (meaning it was a pain to read). This Bible I got a hold of, however, is in Simplified Chinese characters, and is printed horizontally instead of vertically. What a blessing! I'm pretty excited to use it in my lessons now, especially since I no longer have a Chinese-speaking companion who has a Chinese Bible.

Speaking of my companion, I'm now serving with Elder Nelson, who is from Redlands, California. He's only been out for 5 weeks, so I'm follow-up training him. He's starting to love Chinese missionary work! We've been blessed with having to literally run from appointment to appointment in Liverpool. When Elder Nelson first came to Liverpool, he asked me why I don't go out running in the morning when we have our daily exercise; he's starting to realise that we run all day because of all our appointments, so we might as well conserve the energy in the morning!

I would like to share a miracle that we had this week:

One evening, Elder Nelson and I followed a prompting to try by our investigator Jing's home to follow up on her coming to church. As we approached her home, a man was standing at the doorway. As soon as he saw us, he smiled and beckoned us in. When we entered, he introduced himself as Jing's husband. We had never met him before, but he was so happy to see us! He said that he recently had a desire to learn more about Christianity because of his wife's example, and had asked his wife Jing if he could contact us. According to him, she had brushed him aside somewhat and said that they shouldn't bother us, and that he should wait until Sunday when Jing would meet us at church. He was a bit annoyed, but he let it be. Later that day, he went out to the doorway to have a smoke, and was just thinking about wanting to meet us when he opened the door and saw Elder Nelson and I walking right towards him! No wonder he was so happy when we first saw him! He was so happy that he gave us a hug before we left!

Photos this week:

Elder Chong's first Chinese Bible from the Singapore Bible Society

Group photos above from the District Temple Trip

Elder Nelson and I at the Preston England Temple

We had a Zone Meeting and as part of an activity, the Zone Leaders invited a few Elders to teach everyone how to play certain sports, and the Sisters to teach everyone how to paint nails and braid hair. It was hilarious! The Sisters brought some nail polish, and the Elders drew outlines of our hands on paper and painted the "nails". The Sisters then gave us some string to practise braiding. I recorded the steps in my study journal for future reference haha. Some Elders turned out be really good at polishing nails and braiding hair! It's almost as if they're experienced or something......

Nail Painting exercises

Hair Braiding exercises

First baptism where Elder Chong had witnessed the entire conversion process for Conrad
Week 46 (13 May 2013)

This week we were blessed with the Baptism of Conrad! It has been a wonderful journey and I have been blessed to witness his entire conversion process. Conrad made a lot of changes in his life and we have been very blessed to help him through them thanks to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! What made it particularly special is that Conrad was initially found when Elder Hawks and I followed a distinct prompting to head in a certain direction while street contacting. Conrad was the first Chinese person we saw and spoke to. He initially walked away but when I introduced myself as Elder Chong in Chinese, he stopped and turned around, saying that we were of the same Chinese family name (Zhang). He did so out of traditional Chinese respect, which is to never turn away someone bearing the same family name! What a blessing it is that our family name is just about the 2nd most common family name in China haha.

We had a massive turnout at Conrad's baptism. He invited many of his friends, both Church members, investigators, and other friends who have not come into contact with our church before. It was a wonderful experience! 

The Mission allowed a special online communication with Elder Chong with family members on occasion of Mother's Day and he commented in his mail, "A big thank you to all the family members who participated in the Google+ Hangout yesterday. It was great to finally hear the Singaporean/Malaysian accent again! As a result of the Hangout, however, I don't really have much to say left in this email, so this might have to suffice!"

The invitation card I designed for our latest Mission-wide Chinese Activity (which I'm organising again - this time with the help of Sister Embley) which will be held in Liverpool on the 31st of May!

Minor Incident of Broken Glasses
Week 47 (20 May 2013)

I broke my glasses this week >< I was flicking it dry after cleaning it one morning, and as I was flicking it, it just fell apart. Thankfully, I brought along my old pair that I had since I was 14, so I wore that until I had time to tape up my glasses. I went to the optician on Saturday and had a new pair made. I had an eye test, and apparently I need more stronger glasses anyway. I'm already blind as a bat without my glasses, so I'm not sure how I can be any more blind. The good news is that I'm getting a free pair of prescription sunglasses, which will help a lot if I have to drive (I'm still working on getting my UK driver's license), especially when the sun is really low, such as during the winter - it just gets in our eyes all the time. The bad news is that my new pair of glasses cost 145 pounds >< Thanks to how blind I am, my lenses are going to be insanely thick unless I pay more for high index lenses that help reduce the lens thickness. That'll make my glasses less heavy and less prone to falling off my face, which does happen from time to time. I should be getting my new pair of glasses this coming Saturday.

I had the wonderful opportunity to teach a couple fo Chinese families this week. The Chinese students from the University whom we normally meet with are very busy with their exams right now, so we've more time to meet the Chinese families staying in Liverpool. Amy, the mother of 6 children from Guangdong, had her husband cook a meal for us last week! We brought our Mission President & wife President and Sister Preston along. It was great. Amy's husband Michael made a very delicious prawn dish ^^,

I've recently been recovering from a cold thanks to the crazy weather we've been having. The temperature has been fluctuating between 10 to 25 degrees Celcius. English weather just can't make up her mind. Basically every missionary in my District has caught the cold recently. We're pretty sure someone among us started passing it around......

Photos for the week :

Last week, I made seafood pasta for the 4 of us missionaries in the flat. Elder Taotua (a Samoan from New Zealand) and I sat on the bench outside to have tea whilst enjoying the sun (the wind was freezing though) 

Amy's children - they're always so full of energy! They're bouncing off the walls every time we visit them.

I had an idea to bake cookies for the Chinese students we're working with to show our support and encouragement for them as they begin their examinations phase. We went over to a member's home and invited the Sisters to join us, and they brought along one of the many Chinese converts in our Ward.

I had utterly no idea how to bake cookies at all, so I was glad to have the Sisters teach me ^^, We made snicker doodles and chocolate chip cookies.

The Church members made us an English Roast Dinner at the end!

A photo of me and my current companion Elder Nelson (from Redlands, California). He doesn't speak any Chinese, so I have to do a lot of translating when we meet with Chinese people!

Elder Taotua (the Samoan from New Zealand) and me. Elder Taotua is one of the Zone Leaders staying in our flat. He's hilarious! He also has an interesting past - he stopped attending church at one point in his life and led a sinful lifestyle for several years, until he finally decided to come back, and later serve a Mission. As he often says, he really loves repentance! Haha!

New Glasses, another Baptism and more photos
Week 48 (29 May 2013)

I have tons of photos to share this week, so it would be best to simply use the photos to show what I've been up to!

A recent convert named Andy invited me over to his place to take a look at his stamp collection (it is massive!). He needed help to differentiate between Chinese, Japanese and Korean stamps. I took photos of some really interesting stamps! Budding historians might find some of these stamps interesting!

This Hong Kong stamp is roughly as old as I am!

Package from Shuan and ben. Thanks for the  Milo, Shuan!

Jason and the first missionaries he ever met

Evangeline, a young Chinese woman whom I taught in Manchester a while ago and who was baptised several weeks ago also came up to Preston to attend the baptism!

Zoe (a Chinese student we used to teach in Preston) and me. 

I got my new glasses! The prescription is slightly stronger than my previous pair. The lenses were so thick that I had to pay more to use high index lenses that would be thinner. The frame is quite similar to my previous pair, but it's actually bigger ^^, It's to symbolise my growing faith in and testimony of the Lord haha.

So my new pair of glasses came with a free pair of prescription sunglasses, which is great! Obviously I can't be wearing it while I go around proselyting, but if I have a driving assignment in the future, it would help a lot to avoid being bedazzled by the low sun. Plus, I'll be able to use it when I go back to Singapore ;)

Elder Nelson and I went over to teach a Chinese mother the other day, and when she found out that we hadn't had tea yet, she brought out some home cooked Kung Pao Chicken-ish dish with rice for us. Elder Nelson gobbled it down! She humbly admitted that she's not a particularly fantastic cook, but that her husband is. Her husband can make homemade dumplings, which we're eager to try next time!

We made a brief visit to the Preston England Temple on P-Day. It was great!

The train ride (I realised I haven't sent any photos of me on the train, which I've taken countless times in England in order to travel to and from meetings). The countryside scenery is beautiful! The only problem is that I wasn't able to take any decent photos of it...

Me at the entrance to the Preston England Temple grounds.

We had a District Leaders Council Meeting for all District Leaders in the Mission yesterday, so it was a great opportunity for me to catch up with people!

All the Elders who came from the same MTC group as me who are now District Leaders. We have a Russian, 3 Americans, a Uruguayan, and a Malaysian!

I realised that I haven't really sent home any photos of me and my Mission President, President Preston, so I took one at the Mission Home!

While waiting for the train in Manchester, we spotted some Book of Mormon Musical ads! (note to those who are unaware - the Book of Mormon Musical is not a Church production)

Missionary Vocabulary and Phrases in Cantonese - I got my wish!

Malaysian BBQ
Week 49 (3 June 2013)

This week has been a crazy one spent preparing for the Chinese Activity we held in Liverpool. We had an impressive turnout of nearly 150 people! We didn't only have Chinese people attend, because we invited English members to come join in the fun and get to know Chinese people too, so we had an absolute blast. Unfortunately, as I was running around making sure everything ran smoothly, I was unable to take any photos. I'll have to wait for the Mission Office send me some!

We had our guests split into 8 groups to go on a treasure hunt interlaced with games and activities in between. The games were really fun, although the treasure hunt kind of fell apart towards the end because some of the children were mistakenly taking all the other teams' clues and puzzle pieces, plus the wind outside blew a few clues away! Nevertheless, everyone had loads of fun!

As you can see in the photos above, I was invited to a Malaysian BBQ this week! I had previously spoken to Malaysian student by the name of Abrar in the University, and since then he has kept me in the loop of Malaysian activities. He told me that they had a Malaysian BBQ planned on Saturday, and so I took Elder Nelson to the park to go try some Malaysian food! They had the real deal - Nasi Lemak, Kari Ayam, Agar-agar, Sambal, Beehoon, Bandung, Kunyet and so on..... ah my heart (and stomach) yearns for more classic Malaysian food just thinking about it...

The funny thing was that the turnout at the Malaysian BBQ was pretty much all Malay. Some of the students who attended such as Ujai (wearing red above) thought there would be some Chinese and Indians as well, but I turned out to be just about the only Chinese person there (plus my companion - the only American haha!). I guess the Malays are just a lot better at enjoying the good weather outside haha!

A special experience shared 
I'd like to share a special experience Elder Nelson and I shared this week. One of our investigators invited us to come teach her husband, who had a lot of questions. Boy were his questions difficult! At first I tried to answer all the questions by myself in Chinese, since Elder Nelson doesn't speak Chinese. However, when the 2nd question came, I felt a strong impression from the Holy Ghost to translate the question and direct it to Elder Nelson. I obeyed the prompting, and Elder Nelson answered the question perfectly. I later found out from Elder Nelson that he was very surprised himself, because he had just studied something from the scriptures during Personal Study that morning that helped him answer the question! I was just as amazed, because I had come across several scriptures in the Bible and Book of Mormon that morning during Personal Study that helped me answer the questions we were faced with, even though we didn't know the questions beforehand. I truly felt that Elder Nelson and I were the Lord's mouthpieces during that lesson. Often, we had no idea how to answer some of the questions, but as we sought God's direction in our hearts, we were given the words to speak. I have experienced this so many times as a missionary, and it really strengthens my testimony of the scriptures, for in Matthew 10:18-20 it says:

18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

Of course, this doesn't mean that we don't do any preparation at all as missionaries. A verse in the Doctrine & Covenants 84:85 qualifies this principle of speaking by the Spirit:

85 Neither take yet thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man. (emphasis added)

Here we see that it is important that we treasure up in our minds continually the words of life, which means that we need to study our scriptures daily! Elder Nelson and I were blessed with inspiration and guidance because we had taken time to study our scriptures that morning. Likewise, all of us, missionaries or not, can experience greater direction from God, especially when we are in the act of sharing the Gospel with our friends and family.

I know that God lives and that He guides us in His work in this Restored Church. May the Lord bless you and keep you as we all go about our upcoming week!

Family History
Week 50 (12 June 2013)

Today is transfer day! It marks the end of my 8th transfer as a missionary, and I'm starting my 9th! I will be hitting my Year Mark this coming transfer - time has flown by so quickly!!!!

This transfer, Elder Nelson and I will continue to serve together in Liverpool, which is great, because we are seeing so many miracles together!

Just yesterday, we initially decided to tract a specific area. However, as we were walking, I felt a distinct impression to turn around and head to the University instead. I was quite unsure of it at first, because turning back to the University meant that we would have wasted significant time and energy heading to our tracting location, and I wasn't sure if Elder Nelson would be pleased with my change of mind. I told him about my impression, and he simply agreed to turn around. Almost immediately after we turned around, we spotted an elderly Chinese man standing at a bus stop opposite the street. We immediately went to speak to him, and he turned out to be from Hong Kong, and spoke only Cantonese which I did not understand at all (I guess I need a lot more time studying the new Cantonese missionary vocabulary and phrases booklet haha!).

As we were talking to this man from Hong Kong, we noticed that a young Chinese father and his young daughter arrived at the bus stop. When the bus arrived, we all tried to get on the bus, but since it was full, Elder Nelson and I were left with the young Chinese father and his daughter at the bus stop (the man from Hong Kong managed to squeeze onto the bus). This turned out to be a perfect set-up, because we started speaking to the young Chinese father. We got on the bus with the young father and I started talking about my family with him. I discovered that he had 3 children and was taking his daughter home to his wife and 2 other children. I showed him photos of the Chong family using a folder which Dad prepared for me when I left on my Mission (I've been doing that a lot recently and it really helps people warm up to us!). We had a great conversation, but sadly he said that he didn't really have time for church or religion. Nevertheless, I felt prompted to be a bit more persistent and asked if we could meet his wife at their home and share more about how families can be blessed by God. He agreed, and he brought us to his home where we met his wife and children. It was great! It turned out that his wife knows Amy too! (Amy is the mother of 6 children whom I started teaching with Elder Hawks)

As I was introducing my family and my life before my mission using the folder, she noticed some of my drawings, and asked if I could give her daughter art lessons! I was most happy to, and we set up a return appointment to have an art lesson followed by a gospel message. We even have a member in the Liverpool Ward who will be able to fellowship and give art lessons too! At the end of our visit we closed with a prayer, and left with the wonderful feeling of having made new friends, which I expressed to them. They felt the same! What a wonderful blessing!

Right after that wonderful visit, Elder Nelson and I were on the bus heading to an appointment with none other than Amy herself. Along the way, the bus suddenly stopped at a bus stop for a while with the doors open. As we sat there and waited, Elder Nelson suddenly got up and told me that we had to get of the bus. He motioned to me to look out the window, and I realised that he had spotted a Chinese family walking on the street. We immediately got off and headed straight towards the family. We met a young father who had a young son and daughter with him. He was happy to meet us, and expressed his admiration for us because his father was once a Christian missionary in China! We exchanged contact details quickly to find a time to meet again and went our separate ways.

These are only a few of the miracles we've been blessed with working together in Liverpool! 

Recently in our Mission we've placed a greater emphasis on doing Family History work. I remember some details about the Chong family and Thong family from the stories Mom and Dad used to tell us, but I decided that I want to learn a lot more! I went onto familysearch.org our Church website that helps us with Family History and Genealogy and discovered that the website has over 16 million images of Chinese genealogical records! I found some that explain how the Chongs in Indonesia are of Hakka origin in China and it outlines where the Hakka were (Hakka are a minority race in China). Knowing that we are of Hakka descent, I was most thrilled. The record was written in a very scholarly manner which was difficult for me to understand, so one of the Chinese students helped me out :) A lot of the genealogical records in China were written in classical Chinese, which I failed all throughout Secondary School in Malaysia. Oh the regret! I'll need the help of native Chinese students to interpret those records! Not all of them are good at understanding Classical Chinese either, so it's going to be quite an adventure.

More excitingly, I recently met a Chinese student who is also a Zhang/Chong, who is also Hakka! He was just as excited as I was when we discovered this. He shared that his family has kept genealogical for about 16 generations, and even keeps track of daughters' names (which most Chinese genealogical records often omit)! He agreed to meet up again sometime to look at the genealogical records our church has online. Unfortunately, his records are with the clan genealogist back home in China, but if we find any sign of connection between us, I could get scans or copies from him in the future! The Spirit of Elijah is truly manifesting itself in the Chinese work in Liverpool! What I need now is some copies of the genealogical records we have so we can look for any connections.

Unfortunately, I'm running out of time to email today, so the many photos I took this past week and a half will have to wait till the following Monday. Till then, I'll include just one photo of some drawings I did during my spare time recently!

Happy Belated Father's Day and more exciting experiences shared
Week 51 (17 June 2013)

Happy Belated Father's Day Dad!!!!

Elder Nelson and I had many more exciting experiences since my last email!

One day, Elder Nelson and I were on the bus making our way to an appointment with Amy and her family. Elder Nelson told me suddenly that we should get off the bus and take a different route. We heeded this prompting, and got off just one stop after getting on. We took a different bus, and Elder Nelson said that he felt that we needed to be on that bus. Unfortunately, there wasn't really anyone we could speak to on the bus itself, because it was packed full with schoolgirls probably aged between 10-12, and we didn't want to get into trouble if we spoke to them. However, we quickly found out why Elder Nelson was prompted to change buses, because as soon as we got off, we spotted a Chinese family heading to the bus stop we were about to take another bus from.

We met the family at the bus stop and initiated a conversation with them. We spoke to a mother of 2 baby boys and a teenage son. The mother has been in England for a few years with her husband, and her son just moved to England a few days ago. We had a great conversation, but the mother was not keen on having missionary visits. However, we soon realised that we were heading to the same place - and that she was Amy's neighbour! It turned out that they, being the only Chinese in the neighbourhood, knew each other, and this turned out to be a big help, because the mother invited us to come visit her as soon as she found out that we were visiting Amy. Her son, whom we've given the English name Eric, was eager to make friends with us, and has been reading the Book of Mormon since we first met him. He came to Church yesterday and enjoyed it! We're excited to continue teaching him.

Last Saturday, our Mission had a once-a-transfer "4 hour Finding Saturday", where we specifically make time to go out finding for 4 hours on the first Saturday of the transfer, starting with a 2-hour block of finding at 10am throughout the Mission. In preparation for this, Elder Nelson and I spoke to several members of the Ward and asked them if they knew where we might be able to find Chinese families. One of the members suggested a certain area. On the day itself, the Chinese-speaking Sisters in our District went with us to the area and split up to tract and find Chinese families. Elder Nelson and I decided to walk into a nearby store to ask the shopkeeper if she knew where we would find Chinese families in the area. She wasn't very sure, but suggested a particular street, which we tried - and it turned out to be a Chinese-owned estate! About 60% of the homes there were rented by Chinese families. The only slight problem was that most of these families were either from Hong Kong or Guangdong, which meant that they were largely Cantonese-speaking. Thus far I've picked up enough Cantonese to start basic conversations with people and introduce who we are and what we represent, but I'm still a long way from being able to hold a good Gospel conversation. Thankfully, I knew enough to ask people if they spoke Mandarin or English, and to explain that my Mandarin is much better. There were a few who could speak Mandarin that I had good conversations with. Elder Nelson and I will be going back to the area for a few return appointments this week, so we're excited!

As promised, here are photos taken during the past 2 weeks!

Zone BBQ
Elder Taotua (who has completed his mission and returned to New Zealand) organised a BBQ for all the missionaries in the Liverpool Zone two weeks ago. We had loads of fun! There was plenty of food, and we all played various sports after eating.

Me and Elder Taotua

Zone photo

Elder Webster (our Zone Leader, from Arizona) and me

We took a District Photo after our final District Meeting of the previous transfer. We've had a change of 3 missionaries since then! (our next District Meeting is tomorrow

Sushi Party
Elder Nelson really likes Sushi, and made it known to some of our Chinese members. So they organised a "Sushi" Party! It wasn't really a Sushi Party because they prepared a lot more dishes other than Sushi, but we enjoyed it all the same!
The food they prepared - my favourites were the (processed) seafood soup on the far left, middle row (which consisted of fishballs, seafood tofu, tau pok, glass noodles and other delicious stuff) and the dish on the top-right hand corner, which was made of mushrooms and oyster and deep-fried tempura style. Mmmmm.... 
It turned out to be an all-male party. Yeah! Our chefs were Larry (4th from the left) and Xin Kai (5th from the left)

Elder Nelson has become pretty adept at the use of chopsticks!

Chinese Restaurant
We met more of our Chinese friends plus the Chinese-speaking Sisters at a Chinese restaurant where Larry is working at.
We met more of our Chinese friends plus the Chinese-speaking Sisters at a Chinese restaurant where Larry is working at. The food and company were great!

Black's Farewell
Our investigator, nicknamed Black, returned to China last week. He'll come back for his next semester of university in September and he will be baptised then!

Me, Elder Nelson, Black, and Xin Kai

 My favourite photo of Black and Elder Nelson

Elder Taotua's Farewell
Elder Taotua, our Zone Leader from New Zealand who shares the flat with us, finished his mission last week!
Me and Elder Taotua

Elder Taotua doing the hakka

Get Well Soon
Amy's children made some get-well soon cards for someone in our Ward who wasn't feeling really well. If this doesn't make anyone feel better I don't know what will!

Eric's First English Meal

We brought Eric to Sam's home for dinner after Church on Sunday. It was Eric's first English meal ever! Technically though, the chicken Sam prepared was Chinese-style haha. It was fun, because he was watching how I used the fork and knife. I was applying what I learnt from Shuan about posh dining etiquette and aways keeping the fork pointed downwards (and how to eat peas), so Eric found it a bit difficult at first!

Year Mark This Week
Week 52 (24 June 2013)

This Friday, the 28th of June, marks my 1st full year as a missionary!

Time has flown by quickly indeed. Looking back on my mission so far, I can see just how much God has blessed me and moulded me during my time as a missionary. I have seen His hand in the work that we do, and this has served to strengthen my faith in Him. God has been really kind to me too, because He's given me a few bonuses as I've served as a missionary. As the scripture in Mosiah 2:41 goes,

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and ahappy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are bblessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual;

As I consider serving a mission to not only be a privilege and blessing but also a commandment, I have noticed just how God has blessed me both spiritually and temporally. Some temporal bonuses I've noticed since I came out on my Mission:

1. I've become a better cook (although I daresay I wasn't a bad one either before my mission hehe)
2. I've picked up improvisation on the piano (thanks to the plentiful invitations to play the piano for various meetings)
3. I've picked up a bit of the organ (thanks to the dream I had, and the easy access to organs in the chapels)

These are just a few of the blessings I've noticed.

I would like to share another wonderful finding miracle Elder Nelson and I had last week.

Elder Nelson and I were on the bus on our way to the University to do some finding there, but we were prompted to get off the bus halfway to tract a particular area. We chose a door to knock on, and an old English lady answered. She instantly told us that she wasn't interested at all, but happily told us where we could find Chinese families in the neighbourhood. Nobody was home when we tracted the first specific house she gave us. We then headed to the next area she told us we could try (she didn't know of a specific house though).

We made our way, and we weren't very sure where to head next. All of a sudden Elder Nelson stopped to pick up a penny from the ground.

"Great," I joked, "all we need is to follow the trail of pennies and we'll find the Chinese families! Chinese people work hard, so they're rich - that's why they leave a trail of coins behind them..."

Surely enough, we found another penny on the ground, leading us to a compound of houses. We looked for some hints to see if we could spot a "Chinese House". I picked the house that had a garden that wasn't as well kept as the others, knowing that most Chinese people are too busy with work to bother with beautifying their gardens. (sidenote: Elder Nelson and I met an exception later during the week - we helped a Chinese man lay some tiles in his sister's garden where she wanted to plant vegetables and herbs) 

We rang the doorbell, and nobody answered. We waited, and rang the doorbell again. Nobody answered, but we were prompted to wait a little while until we knocked on the door. Still, there was no answer. After waiting for a total of what might have been 5 minutes, we turned around and began to make our way. Just as we were walking away, a Chinese mother answered the door, and we quickly turned back and began speaking to her. She said that she has been interested in looking into Christianity, and gladly set up an appointment for us to meet with her and her husband the next day. We had a wonderful lesson the next day as we shared how the gospel of Jesus Christ blesses families, especially our own. (Elder Nelson and I shared some photos of our families) At the end of the lesson, her husband agreed to offer a kneeling prayer for the family. She was helping him along too! We are so excited for their family. They have a 10-year-old son who is very mature for his age, and 2 younger daughters. We can see just how prepared the family is to receive the gospel!

Photo for this week :

Left to right: Sister Merrill from Colorado, Chinese Speaking; new missionary Sister Hubbard from Utah (Provo I think); new missionary Elder Michaelson from Idaho; Elder Kunzler from Idaho; myself from Malaysia/Singapore; Elder Nelson from Redlands, California!

Year Mark Passed
Week 53 (2 Jul 2013)

I've officially passed my year mark as a missionary! Time has really flown by indeed, and I've learnt so much. I've also learnt that I have a lot more to learn too!

We were really busy this week, so I didn't do anything particularly fancy for my year mark, although I did get a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice-cream on a discount hehe ^^,

Something funny did happen on the day of my year mark though. I was on exchange with Elder Walker, my Zone Leader, and we had just left an appointment and were going to take the bus to another appointment when Elder Walker asked me if there was a toilet we could use nearby. I suggested that we could try a nearby supermarket. The boss refused to let us use the toilet upstairs, so I banked on good 'ol Chinese hospitality and took Elder Walker to a nearby Chinese takeaway. We went in and stood at the counter waiting for our turn. The lady boss of the takeaway came and asked us if we wanted anything. I put on my best cheeky smile and went,

"Hi, sorry, but could you help us out, please? My friend here really really needs to use the toilet. Could we use yours?"

The lady boss beckoned us past the counter and said that since I asked her so nicely, she couldn't say no. So Elder Walker and I went in and upstairs to use their toilet haha!

Unfortunately my email time is very limited today because we made a trip to the Albert Docks of Liverpool, so I'll have to send the bulk of the photos next week! In the meantime here are just a few photos:

Elder Walker and me with the homemade pizza he made last P-day. As you can see, Elder Walker is black, and I'm Chinese, so when we had our exchange together we called ourselves Elder (Jackie) Chan and Elder (Chris) Tucker - those of you who have watched the movie Rush Hour will know. We were quoting many lines from the Rush Hour movies throughout the movie hahaha.

The tub of Ben & Jerry's Ice-cream I had to celebrate my year mark.

Elder Nelson and I became Sisters Chong and Nelson whereas the Sisters became Elders according to the mail sent to us by the Mission Office O_O

Comments from Elder Chong's father : 
Week 53 email from Elder Chong is the last week for this post as it covers the previous week of him passing the Year Mark. Week 54 and future mails in his second year of his mission will be in another blog post found here.  

The photo below came from his email of Week 54 that is appropriate for his passing the Year Mark!

A cake made by a member named Sam to celebrate my Year Mark!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Keep up the great work Elder !
From all of us at Liahona Warrior Arts International !