"A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." Joseph Smith

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Lord Will Provide

Even though we are humanitarian missionaries, we also would love to share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But to be honest with you, we are not very good at finding people.  We are just not good at starting a conversation with people on the street.  

And being in a big city makes it a bit more challenging – with everyone scurrying off to work plugged in to headphones, staring at their iPhones, and reading the paper – often at the same time! Just like the photo at the left.

This kind of scene just looks like, "Don't interrupt me - I am not interested in striking up a conversation with you."

So we don't.

So I went to the Lord and explained to Him our desires.  I told Him that we would love to share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone, but needed help finding someone.

So I asked Him if He could please send someone to us. And that is just what He did!

The very next Sunday while we were in the lobby of the Church building, we were introduced to Simon. Simon had met some missionaries during the week who invited him to church. Simon has investigated the church off and on for quite a few years, and was back again to try to answer his longing questions about faith.

Since then, Simon has come to church with us each week, has heard us speak in several sacrament meetings, and has had several missionary discussions. He's a great guy and we enjoy being able to visit with him about the Church and answer his questions.

Mormon.org has lots of good material for answering people's questions. And to answer questions about our belief in Jesus Christ, click HERE.

So grateful to a loving Father in Heaven who is mindful even of those of us who aren't good at striking up conversations with people, but who greatly want to share the Gospel.  And so grateful that Simon seems to be finding answers to his questions.

Loving our mission!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Beating the Petty Person

Have a grudge against someone?  A boss you don’t like?  A nosey neighbor?  Well, now you can be freed from the stress and anguish of this “petty person” – with the practice of “da siu yan”.

The practice of "beating petty people" -- or "da siu yan" -- is a unique southern Chinese custom for exorcising any real or imagined demons.  Usually carried out by old ladies who are the de facto sorceresses of Hong Kong, these “witches” use a paper effigy of the petty person you are having trouble with, and beat it with an old beat-up shoe while they chant.  

Then they burn the effigy up – I’m sure there is more to it than that, but for 50 Kong Kong dollars ($6.45) you can have peace of mind  knowing the bane of your life will now be haunted with the curses of the chanted divination.

                                               And to think that is all that it takes!  Who knew?!

It only takes about three minutes and the feisty old ladies are given HK$50 for their trouble.

For a video of this woman beating a petty person and burning the effigy, check out my Facebook Page HERE.  

“That's not a whole lot for giving you peace of mind. But for them, it's a higher calling.

"This isn't a job that anyone can take on," says practitioner Siu Jeh. “You have to be commissioned by the gods. They have to give you the power, then you can complete the petty people beating ceremony."


Source: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/culture-heritage/living-culture/pretty-person-beating.jsp#ixzz3A5gKVaf3

Thursday, August 14, 2014

So What's a Mission Really Like?

So what is it really like to be on a senior mission?  We've been out three months and it is time to fess up.  Here is the truth about the whole thing.

It is utterly amazing.
It is incrediblyexhausting.
It is extremely bewildering at times.
It is undeniably inspiring.

It wasn't what I thought it was going to be.  I thought a mission would be loads of fun, being able to get out and meet lots of people and teach them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I knew it would be challenging and I thought I knew what “challenging” meant.  I was told we would work hard and I thought I was already a seasoned veteran at that.  And then we got called to an office mission….

We are office missionaries, and we do office stuff.  From early in the morning till late at night.   And prepare for meetings.  Or go to meetings.  Or present information at meetings. 

But it turns out that it's WHAT we do on the computer that makes this all worthwhile.  It’s what the meetings are ABOUT that makes this a most incredible experience. It’s who the meetings are WITH that makes it an inspiring journey, unsurpassed by any imaginations of the heart.

We are talking about people.  Getting people dignity, giving people hope.

Meet Mrs. Du.  She lives in Gansu, China.  She just got a wheelchair from LDSC and can now get outside her modest mud-built home, go places, see people – without being carried by others. Because of that wheelchair.

This kind of thing is going on all the time, all throughout Asia. Wheelchairs, walkers, prosthetics, vision care, neo-natal resuscitation for babies, asthma training, supplies for earthquake victims, supplies for schools, hospitals, clinics, families, and children.  Food supplement programs.  Teaching principles of self-reliance, industry, thrift – and helping the poorest of the poor.

I keep a picture of Mrs. Du right in front of me at the office where I can see it all the time.  And tomorrow I will sit at the computer and do more office stuff.  But I am happy.  Because people like Mrs. Du are happier.

Plus, we get to visit amazing countries like Myanmar and China and Nepal to check on humanitarian projects, serve in the Hong Kong Temple weekly, teach Sunday classes in a Philippine branch (small congregation), speak in sacrament meetings of 6 different branches, and consecrate all our time and money to the Lord’s work. 

There is a spirit of peace that comes at the end of the day, even while exhausted and out of strength, that buoys us up and lifts us.  I think it goes something like this:

"Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay?  It is, emphatically, no sacrifice.  Say rather, it is a privilege!"    David Livingston

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Bird Garden - a Play Group for Birds

Taking a break from the demanding mission work - time to visit the Bird Garden.

The entrance to the Bird Garden - you can tell it's going to be a lovely place!
The Bird Garden, or Bird Street, is several blocks of all kinds of exotic birds for sale.  A pet bird is a prized possession, especially among older men.  They even take them on "walks" to get fresh air - carrying their cages carefully as they stroll along the street.
A dazzling array of cages to choose from, ranging from simple to very ornate.
One of the more ornate ones we saw - nothing too good for your bird!

This little one has a beautiful cage! Notice the intricate carvings.
Grey pink parrot.

Men like to come to the Bird Garden with their pet birds.  They hang the cages up and let the birds visit with each other while they chat away or just sit and listen to the singing.  Kind of like a Bird Play Group! 

Bringing his bird to the Bird Garden play group!

The birds seem to enjoy all the attention,
 fresh air, and socializing with the other birds.

Waiting for new homes.

This man was working on the ceramic bird feeding bowls, attaching cork blocks
to hook onto the cages.

These little canaries are about $84 apiece.  And they sing beautifully!

Checking out the little canaries.
This woman is transferring the canaries from the
smaller cage to the larger one for feeding time.
 They get to eat seeds,  whereas the larger birds eat
 something a little more - "fresh".

Yummy worms, live crickets or grasshoppers are the food of choice for some birds.  The live grasshoppers are either fed by chopsticks to the birds, or wired to the side of their cages for a scrumptious and very fresh treat.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Giving People Hope, Giving People Life

LDSC has donated tens of thousands of wheelchairs, walkers and prosthetics to those in need all throughout Asia.  We are grateful for the partners we have in those countries that help make this possible, and for all the contributions made by ordinary people all over the world to the humanitarian fund.  It is rewarding to see the recipients faces and their gratitude.

A recent recipient of an LDSC wheelchair in Vietnam

Elder and Sister Sippel are one of our humanitarian couples in Myanmar. Recently they attended a ceremony at the delivery of prosthetic legs - this project was a partnership between Latter-Day Saint Charities and Shwe Minn Tha Foundation, and the prostheses recipients of 86 legs, in Danubyu Township.  The Chief Minister over Ayeyarwady Region, Oo Dane Aung and the Township Administrator Oo Sing Maw attended and spoke at the ceremony, as did Mr. Myat Thu Winn, President of the Shwe Minn Tha foundation.  Many of the prostheses recipients also attended and were presented with their new legs.  Here is a picture of the 86 prosthetic legs that were presented that day.

86 prosthetic legs, made to order.  Notice the LDSC logo on the upper left of the banner.  

After the ceremony, Mr. Winn and Elder Sippel were interviewed by the Sky Net Television Station, and the interviews were broadcast the following evening. The Chief Minister thanked Latter-Day Saint Charities and spoke of all the good work done by LDSC.  "He expressed how much he appreciated us coming, and giving our time and support to his country."

The pictures say it all.

Each recipient receives her new leg, and has a chance to walk without crutches for the first time in her life.

A big smile for this girl as she receives her prosthetic leg.

Many people in Myanmar lose limbs due to hidden mines in the fields left over from previous wars. Some lose limbs from accidents or illness.  Getting a prosthetic leg can make all the difference in the world to them - allowing them perhaps for the first time to get a job or go to school. 

One recipient earlier explained it this way.  "When you receive a wheelchair, you get hope.  When you receive a prosthetic leg, you get a life."

Loving our mission!

Elder and Sister Coffey