Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas and so many miracles!!

This week's post is a few days late. The library was closed on their p-day so they emailed on Thursday instead of Monday this week. We were able to talk to her on Christmas and it was so great to hear her voice!! She sounded good, yet, a little stressed. Which is very understandable with all the changes she's gone through in the last month. So, keep praying for her I know it helps.

Ngoh ge gating!!! Leeeeihhh hou.

Greetings from Tai Po Library. Okay so here's something weird to think about: right this very second you are all just sleeping in your beds & it is merely 7:20 pm here in Hong Kong! How are you all? It was so wonderful to hear all of your voices & spend moments with each of you via telephone connections. What a blessing! I hope you all had a wonderful rest of the day & the merriest Christmas ever. Thank you for all your emails & updates. I am sitting here in the library laughing so hard. By the way feel free to listen to this little tidbit. I will be emailing again on Monday morning (hopefully, if all goes as planned) so if you want to try & be on at the same time as me, keep checking your email Sunday night. Just dropping a line there. Feel free to disregard that. But before I move on I just want to say, I loved the pictures!!!! You all are looking particularly peppy & attractive so good work. Also, glad to see your sense's of humor have been nothing but enhanced. Honestly. You are all downright comedians. Stay in my life forever. K- see you there.

I will have you all know that about 2 hours after I got off the phone with all of you (best present ever!) We were cheng-ed out. (when I understand why it's called that I will tell you) Anyway this member couple took me, my companion, & the 2 Elders in our ward out for brunch. The other 3 missionaries were making me all nervous & saying things like: "good luck Sister Palmer" & "I hope you came hungry" & "sometimes these are really rough." Not exactly comforting or encouraging words before going into dine with ward members. So anyway we go into the restaurant & the  Chinese couple who invited us ordered SO MUCH FOOD. It was honestly unreal. There was a small turning table on the table & they ordered everything under the sun. Chicken feet you ask? NAILED IT. Yes everyone. I went ahead & enjoyed my very first chicken feet. I've really had worse. It wasn't too bad. Still the worst thing was last week. The cloudy orange flowery jello still takes the cake. I still gag thinking about it. So check that off of my list of tried foods. Also everyone is mildly impressed that I can actually use chop sticks. So thanks Dad! Buy yourself a Subway sandwich as a reward because it's thanks to you your daughter is not starving here in the Hong Kong.

I have so much to tell you & pictures to email so let me just get started here. We have seen so many miracles every day I am having such a hard time choosing what to tell you.
Here's a good one that I meant to share with you on the phone, but somehow forgot! So there we were, on the MTR (very similar to New York's subway system, but I think even more efficient) with an investigator named Jennifer. She is 11 & we are just chatting it up with her on the way home. There is a man near us in a wheel chair that keeps looking at us but we don't want to be rude & we didn't want to stop talking to her & turn all of our attention to the man. So we keep talking & Sister Nielsen says she said a prayer of how we could have a chance to talk to the man without being rude to Jennifer. Well literally 5 seconds later, a man standing near us completely falls to the ground & passes out-- right on the train! Everyone was freaking out, & emergency services were called. The whole train was quiet until the next stop. Turns out the man passed out because he locked his knees, so he ended up being okay. Sister Nielsen & I checked on him as we got off just to make sure everything was okay, & what do you know, the only other man who came to make sure he was okay was the man we knew we needed to talk to-- The Man in the Wheelchair!!!! We were able to talk to him about what our gospel could offer him. It was such a miracle, & it's just one of those moments when you know that you are right where the Lord wants you to be.

Our ward here in Tai Wai is a straight up dream. I told you about the Christmas Party on the phone already, but I didn't tell you about what happened in Church on Sunday. So we were asked to sing with the Ward Choir. We weren't able to go to any of the practices but the Ward Choir director, Tai Jimuih, (my MTC teacher's Mom) is the director. So naturally its going to be a good time. I wish you could meet her. She is fiesty, funny, & has more energy firing up her little body than anyone else I have ever seen. Anyway she asked the 4 of us missionaries to sing the first verse of Silent Night in English, "oooh" the intro to Away in a Manger-a capella, & sing all the rest of the songs with the Choir in Cantonese. Seems harmless enough right? Well keep in mind we are all trying to make a good impression because one of the members of the 70 is in attendance. (And so the plot thickens.) 

Well silent night went great, the ooohing not so great because we sang it in a different key but worse things could have happened, & then came the time to sing the final number, a Christmas favorite & classic: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. We were ready to go when a familiar tune started playing that was not what I had previously been told was going to be sung. My first thought, "I didn't remember this tune being a Christmas song..." but I was trying so hard to keep from laughing that I couldn't remember what the song was to try & turn there. The whole choir was flipping frantically & trying to hum along while trying to figure out what song was actually being played on the piano. Well never fear we figured it out just as the last half of the final verse was being played: Hark All Ye Nations. hahahaha. I was dying! And if you could have only seen Tai Jimuih trying to lead us while this fiasco was going on--Oh my. SO GOOD! 

But the Ward is so awesome. The Mahk Gaaujyu & Taai Taai (Bishop Mahk & his wife) are so wonderful, & the ward members are really missionary minded. I love them so much. Sister Mahk makes the most delicious foods & they host family home evening at their house EVERY Monday with more food than should be legal. She even makes Western Comfort foods (lihtsi: Homemade Orange Rolls!!!) & they are so missionary minded, it's such a blessing.

I want to share one final thought, I know God helps me when I open my mouth. Coming to Hong Kong, that's been my biggest obstacle. Fear is something Satan works on me everyday. I actually said that in my last email to my mission president & then when I saw President Hawks this past week he said, "Sister Palmer, so you have some fear huh?" I replied that yes, I in fact did. And he told me that he has fear everyday! He said, "Every morning I wake up afraid." It was incredibly comforting. Today, Sister Nielsen & I made a goal to talk with everyone! And what do you know. We saw miracles. We contacted a girl named Serena on our train ride home & right before we got off the train she asked quietly "Leihdeih gokdak ligo haih Sahn ge gaaiwalk?" MEANING: "DO YOU THINK IT WAS GOD'S PLAN THAT I MET YOU????" We told her that we knew it was. I know that it's okay to be apprehensive & afraid but I also know that Jesus Christ & the Holy Ghost are my companions along with Sister Nielsen & they go before my face. I am using the fact that I barely speak any Cantonese to my advantage & as a conversation starter. The Chinese honestly think I am so weird. I think my big mouth & broken Chinese scare a lot of them. I like it. 

But I testify that when I exercise small amounts of faith, God gives me bigger miracles than I deserve. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know this church is God's only true church on the earth today. I know there are prepared people in Hong Kong who are ready to change & come closer to Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ. I know that families are forever & Heavenly Father's plan is perfect & he loves all of his children individually.

I love you all so much. Thank you for all your support & love. Thinking about you all at home gives me so much strength!!!!!

Miss You Already!!!
Paahk Jimuih
Ashley didn't explain these pictures too much. The one with the pigs is what her whole mission ate together on Christmas Eve. She is pictured with her companion Sister Nielsen.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

She's in Hong Kong!!

Yes. There she is. Ashley is in Hong Kong. She is 15 hours ahead of us there, so I am constantly thinking, what time is it in Hong Kong? and trying to figure out what she might be doing at that time. The above picture was sent to me by Sister Hawks, the mission president's wife, who she is pictured with. As you will see she is doing so great and loving the work.

Dear Dad, Mom, McKay, Spencer, Wade & Rachel:

GREETINGS!!!!!!!!!!! LEIH HOU! Oh my goodness, can you believe I am in Hong Kong? Yeah Me neither!!! I just about pass out every time I think about it. But I mean a good pass out. Like passing out because your heart is so full & you are so excited. You get me? Okay thank you for your emails! And I got the Christmas card my 1st full day here! It looks so good, you all are a very attractive bunch. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR ALL THE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS. I nearly slapped myself when I got off the phone for not thanking you more for those. I LOVED EVERYTHING. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

Okay FYI before we get rocking, rolling, & updating here, let me just tell you that this email is hitting you from & made possible by Hong Kong Public Libraries. I just can't believe I am here. It's honestly unreal.

So after I got off the phone with you we boarded the plane & began our 7526 mile flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. It was long, but could have been worse. I just read some scriptures, talked, played a little flight game with Sister Larson, looked out the window, ate some snacks, practiced some Cantonese, etc. But mostly I slept. I was so tired! It was a good flight. Pretty comfortable. We arrived in Hong Kong around 7:30pm. We went through this customs thing? Actually I don't really know what it was. But yeah, we went through it & then picked up our bags. They made it so big problem there. We weren't sure which terminal to go through or where we were being picked up so we followed the Senior missionaries that we had been traveling with & went to waiting area B. We were a little confused because we didn't see anyone we knew, or rather anyone who looked like church personal...personel? I can't spell. Okay anyways turns out the President Hawks, Sister Hawks, & the Assistants were at area A. They saw us on a camera & came running. They felt so bad that they weren't there to greet us. But mouh mahntaih! (no problem) It was like 22 seconds of confusion & then they were there to help us, greet us, & love us...!

Okay so we were greeted by the Hawks. I LOVE THEM!!!! They are so wonderful. They are everything I could have hoped for & more. The assistants took all of our luggage in one mission van & then we went with the Hawks in their's. Here's something I didn't think about/anticipate. All the roads here are like England. Meaning the drivers side is the right hand side, & the roads follow suit. I am so glad I don't have to worry about driving because I know I would honestly panic. But as we drove to the Hawks apartment (aka inside the HONG KONG TEMPLE....!) Actually first, when we got in the car, President Hawks' said, "Sister Palmer, could you help us give a prayer to drive safely to the temple." Sweet. No pressure right. WRONG. IT's only the first time he was going to hear me speak Cantonese out of the 8 minutes I had known him. So I said the prayer, (I really was so nervous, I'm a weirdo), & then we were on our way.

As we drove President Hawks would say things like, "See that building right there... People." "Hey look at that building... People." Looks like I shouldn't go into an interview & ever say a word or phrase similar to "but there aren't any people..." hahahahaha. Everything here is so tall. And yes! The weather is so nice. I guess the bone chilling cold doesn't start until next month. Sister Larson & I slept in the Hawks apartment for 2 nights inside the temple!!!! How many people can say that? It was the most delicious bed & delightful slumber I have had in probably, forever. 

Our first full day of Hong Kong began with a huge breakfast from Sister Hawks, we had orientation meetings about miscellaneous need to know hows, each had our first official interview with President  and then we went tracting for (I think) 4 hours with the assistants. They were pretty much like "sweet, get in there missionaries." At first it was way scary but then I soon hit a point where I didn't care, even when the people would say "Ngoh mhmingbahk yingmahn" = I don't understand English. HAHAHA! I would then try to say "Well great I am not speaking English, I am speaking Cantonese." But that was their clue to basically runaway from the American white girls. Well we gave out 3 copies of the Book of Mormon & loads of flyers. Which is very humbling considering my level of Cantonese is worse than a 6 month old.

That night when we got back to the Hawks apartment I think the Jet lag started to creep in because I was exhausted. I slept from like 10pm-7am. We had a light breakfast the next morning & then attended the "meet your trainer" ceremony. I LOVE MY COMPANION/TRAINER. I keep telling her that she is a straight up dream come true. She is everything I need... & more. Her name is Sister Nielsen (Lihp Jimuih) She is from Idaho, & has been here for 15 months. She is SO SO SO kind & patient. She is very happy & loves the work. I admire her a lot. 

We then set out together to get Hong Kong ID's, went back to the mission office (across the street from the temple) & grabbed my luggage to set out to our apartment. Our apartment is small, but more or less what I expected. We dropped off my luggage & then set out for teaching appointments at the church. We don't live in our area so we have to take the trains (subway) to get to our teaching area aka Tai Wai (pronounced Dy-why, mid tone... why did I just type that, you don't even care about the tones! hahahahaha) The Church is so nice. I need to get a picture. It's just nestled in this green hill & I love it. All of our teaching appointments are at the church so we are there A LOT.

The days here are so good and so long. Every morning Sister Nielsen & I arise & go for a 30 minute casual jog & then prepare, do our studies, teach, find... etc. My first day here Sister Nielsen began to push me. Which is good, but it of course isn't easy. (I know you're thinking to yourself well of course it isn't easy, Ashley!) Anyways, she has me do most of the teaching. What I mean by that is I teach all the principles & then she follows up my clearing up whatever I said wrong, or fills in the gaps where my vocabulary lacks. It is so good. We have taught a few lessons everyday. Mission Field work is so crazy. So busy. But I like that. I like go go going. Sister Nielsen had me make phone calls my first day here! Can you believe that? She trusts me a lot, which is comforting but also frightening.

Our two main investigators that I have met so far & helped teach are Ammon & Lulu. Ammon is 13 & slightly nerdy & I just eat him up. He doesn't feel like he is mature enough for baptism so we are trying to help him see that the blessings of baptism are available for him now if he will only trust Heavenly Father. Lulu is simply the sweetest. Her 21st birthday is Christmas Day. I love her so much. Sister Nielsen is such a good teacher & so inspired. I'm going to be honest. I don't really know what's going on a lot (most) Okay let me be honest: basically all the time. But Hey. It's fine. That is why I am here. To grow & keep learning. Lulu is so great though. We taught her the first lesson on Thursday & she told us when she walked into our church she felt for the first time in our whole life that she had just walked into the real church. She is so prepared. I am now beginning to understand what that means.

Saturday we went to a service project at an old folks home for a Christmas program. It was so fun. Actually two of the sisters in the ward sang this Chinese old woman opera stuff for seriously 25 minutes. I was seriously dying. Apparently it's an old Chinese tradition & Elderly men are supposed to love it. However I was sitting next to one of the residents and he said "hou lahng teng" Which means "really hard to listen to." hahahahahaha. so funny. Look up the opera though on you-tube. It is the best. It sounds like wailing. I have already began to eat foreign foods. For example: I ate octopus already. I love chop sticks. We will talk more about that later. At the service project there was this cloudy orange jello with flowers in it. A member gave me one & I seriously thought I was going to throw up. Oh my I need help! But I got it & kept it down. My eyes were watering. So funny.

Yesterday was my first church day. Talk about a whirlwind. HAHAHAHAHAHA. I thought I didn't understand lessons... church I had no idea what was going on. But what is cool is that the church really is the same everywhere. I was called up to share my testimony, which went fine even though I had a hard time saying "I know families can be together forever."---i got lost in the Chinese grammar. YIKES. But the ward is SO WONDERFUL. I wish you could meet them. My MTC teacher Sister Tai's parents are in my ward. I LOVE THEM. They were so excited to meet me & then in the middle of Sunday school Sister Tai pulls me out & has her iPad & had skyped her daughter, aka my MTC teacher. It was so funny. Her dad is the best & in our correlation meeting yesterday told me that "my daughter told me about you." Anyways I love the ward. They are great fellowshippers & are so crucial to our work. They make everything seem not so overwhelming.

I really love being a missionary. My Cantonese is so bad but everyone is so kind. I am not going to lie, just about everyday I wake up scared. I try not to be, but everything is so foreign. But I know Jesus Christ is my companion & he really does go before my face. I know this gospel is true & the people of Hong Kong NEED this truth. I know Heavenly Father lives, answers prayers & loves us perfectly. There isn't anywhere I would rather be than here.

Family, I LOVE YOU ALLLLLLL SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry for the confusion, yes Pdays are Mondays so count on that. 
Miss, love, & talk to you all so soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Merry Christmas!
Ngoh Ngoi Leihdeih!
Love Paahk Jimuih

Monday, December 3, 2012

I'm Leaving on a jet plane!!

Here's Ashley with her companion Sister Larson and her teacher.
 Humanitarian service projects on Thanksgiving.
Sister Palmer and Sister  Larson
 Rolls from home for Thanksgiving
 Christmas lights!! Things are festive at the MTC.
 Ashley and her district having fun! YAY!! love jumping pictures!! Well, here is Ashley's last email from the MTC. She leaves early next Monday December 10th, will have a brief layover in Los Angeles and then is Hong Kong bound!!
Family, Singdaan Faailohk! (Merry Christmas!!!!)
In the words of John Denver in less than 7 days I am leaving the safety bubble of the MTC & heading to HONG KONG! I truly never thought this day would come. HA! I meet new missionaries all the time who say they recieved their call when I got to the MTC on September 26th. So funny.
Okay did you just love the Christmas devotional last night? I knew it!!! Did Mom cry during President Monson's address? I loved it so much. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!!!
Here is a quick update for the week since I basically have no time:
-Language moment of the week: I told my investigator that
"I know Heavenly Father will help us know what to sin."
.....................................................................................yep cool. The word for sin is jeuih. Then I said jo (basically it's like -ly in english) & then I finally I sad jouh which is to do.
Her face was priceless. Hong Kong here I come!!!!! Let's give 3 cheers for foreign languages & inexperienced speakers. Hip hip hooray x3!
-We have had some awesome speakers at the MTC. Lately it has been members of the 70 who have all delivered inspiring adddresses that I try to implement immediately. They always know exactly what to say. The spirit is so real!!!!
-How was everyone's fast Sunday? Mine was SO good! I even bore my testimony in Cantonese to our Branch yesterday! I was so nervous even there were only 5 people who could understand me. (Since there are only 6 Cantonese speakers the rest of our Branch are English missionaries) But everyone was so kind & said they could feel the spirit even if they couldn't understand a word I said. Luckily the Spirit speaks to everyone regardless of their language!
-TRC this week rocked my world! I know, shocking right?! We were assigned to teach revelation through Chruch attendance. I shared an experience I had before the mission where I received revelation that the main purpose of going to church was not so I could be spiritually filled, but that I could help others, & adminster to their needs. The volunteer, Brother West started crying & then he shared an experience of when he received revelation at church. Not only could I understand him I could feel the Spirit so strong. i wish I could have grabbed a bag & filled it & sent it home to you. Everyone needs this gospel & to feel God's outstretched hands like that. Good news! That's why I am going to Hong Kong!
Okay I am about out of time. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN PACKAGE. Okay Mom you outdid yourself, that thing was huge. This one Elder said, "Oh is there a small tiger in there?" But thank you for giving me a piece of home & that countdown. You know me so well & I am so grateful.
I know this church is so true. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I am a little scared to go to Hong Kong, but I am so excited to share the good news that because Jesus Christ lives, we are never alone. Not only did he suffer for our sins, he suffered our pains so he could know how to help us. I know prayer is real & God answers every prayer. I know with the Holy Ghost & the Book of Mormon I can become the kind of missionary God wants me to be.
Thank you for your prayers, support, letters, kind thoughts, & love.
Paahk Jimuih