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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ngoh Ngoi Leihdeih!
Love Paahk Jimuih