Friday, April 10, 2009

Hong Kong Part 2

The Hong Kong Temple is beautiful! Jason was mostly correct in his comment in part 1. The temple was dedicated in 1996 and the building currently doubles as a temple, a chapel and housing for the temple president (I guess that means it 'triples' in usage?). But the mission offices are currently in the Church office building in downtown Hong Kong (see map).

The door to the temple is the main door of the structure. You access the Chapel (which is on the second floor) through a secondary door just to the right of the main entrance. The chapel area is the part of the temple the Mongolian saints saw first as they attended Sacrament Meeting the morning after their arrival.

As you can see from the map, the temple is located on the north of Hong Kong and is nestled against one of many mountains in the area (see picture). It is, of course, beautiful! Every part of the building is exquisitely finished. Each year, Hong Kong picks one building which they recognize as the most beautiful building in the city. The temple was given that singular honor several years ago.

None-the-less, it is a small temple with only two endowment rooms, each of which holds about 28 people maximum.

The baptismal font is tiny, with just enough room for the worker and one proxy. There are a couple of small padded benches just in front of the font where those who are waiting can be seated. The font is built on the back of twelve oxen which can only be seen through mirrors arranged around the base.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of our experience there was to be part of the sealing of families together. Elder Caldwell was given the opportunity to be witness for two of those. Nothing can compare to seeing a family sealed together for time and eternity in a temple.

These two young people actually considered this their wedding day, even though they had been "officially" married in UB before going to Hong Kong. Mongolia does not recognize a temple marriage and a couple must be married in country before the temple sealing. A marriage in Mongolia consists only of signing some paperwork. Once done, you are considered to be married. Following their sealling, these two had their 'honeymoon' in temple housing! They are members of our branch in Naliakh (it is very possible he will be our new branch president Sunday).

Next: More about the sights in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Humbling experience; Incredible Family!

We have been trying to get caught up after our return from Hong Kong. It took us a couple of hours to get to all of the emails as well as the posts the family has recently published on their own blogs (we didn't really have internet access while we were in Hong Kong). What we learned there was a surprise, indeed. We have responded to them on their blogs, but we just had to let everyone else know how wonderful our family is!

Now, we had one of the most wonderful and memorable experiences of our lives (outside of our own family ones, of course - they are always the best) as we helped the Mongolian members receive the blessings of the temple for themselves, their own families and for many of their ancestors. We felt very much that the Lord had certainly blessed us with this memorable opportunity and that it just wouldn't likely get much better than this.

We were wrong. It actually managed to get much better. And it shouldn't be any surprise, we suppose, that this great improvement came because of what our own family managed to add to it from way back in Utah. It seems that they all got together and decided that they wanted to help cover the costs of our temple trip. And once accomplished, they announced on their own blog that they had pooled their resources and collected enough between them to pay for nearly half of our trip expenses -- which even surprised themselves! And it astounded us!

Because of our lack of internet access temporarily, we had no idea what they were doing. Once back in UB and catching up on our blog reading, we both were dumbfounded. What a wonderful surprise.

We've included a couple of the pictures they posted, for you to enjoy with us.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. We love you more than words can express.

Oh, and if there are any couples out there thinking of serving missions, things such as this alone make it all worthwhile.

--From a very grateful (and proud) grandma and grandpa

Hong Kong - Part 1

We don't quite know where to start nor how to share the experience we have had over the past 12 days or so. Saying that it was wonderful seems very inadequate. But we'll share what we can here with the hope we will have the opportunity to do a more adequate job when we return to Utah - in a couple of years.

The purpose of our trip was, of course, the temple and more specifically to assist the Mongolian members in their first (and for many probably their last) visit to the temple. It seems incredible to us now that we not only have the opportunity in Utah to attend temple sessions whenever we want, but to also recognize that we can choose from any of nearly a dozen or so that are within relatively easy reach. And then to further realize that there are even more temples - lots more temples - that are closer and easier for us to reach than the one single temple these members have available, is very humbling. Never again will we take for granted the wonderful opportunity we have to attend the temple in Utah.

The Mongolian members could not get enough of the temple. They virtually lived there for the entire week. Three sessions per day and more was the norm. We sealed families together, had a new bride and groom sealed together, performed hundreds of ordinances for their family members as a result of family history research they had been able to do before the trip. Much of the Lords' work was accomplished last week. All too quickly it was over and we had to make our way back to Mongolia -- home for us, for now. We'll tell you more about the temple in part 2.

We left Hong Kong two days after the rest of the group did. We have arrived in Ulaanbaatar two and a half days before they will. Mongolians do not need Visas for China and therefore travel by train -- much cheaper than by plane, for them. Foreigners would be required to obtain Visa's and when that cost is considered it is the same for us to fly or to go by train. And lets just say that the trains in Mongolian are something of an adventure all to themselves!

A word about Hong Kong. It is a city of over 7 million people and is a sight to see. And yet, traffic is much less of a problem than it is in Salt Lake. Private vehicle ownership is much discouraged through taxation which doubles the price of any car. To compensate, the mass transit system is something of a marvel. Trains, subways, taxis (tons of taxis!), double decker buses, trams, small buses, big buses, trolleys -- get the picture?! You can get anywhere in this city quickly using mass transit. And the cost is about $1 to $3 US dollars for a typical fare.

It is quite mountainous, here, thus limiting the land that can be developed. Hong Kong is an island AND a big chunk of mainland. In order to handle all of the demands for space, they simply 'go up' -- tons of skyscrapers everywhere!

We have been amazed at everything we have seen for 11 days. We'll do the best we can to continue to share some of it with you.

We have returned!

We had a great return trip and have arrived safely in UB! But it is midnight and we are going to bed. Will post tomorrow.

Good night all!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Quick hello

At an internet cafe in Hong Kong right now. Got rained out and forced to come into this mall. Just wanted to say everything is great and we will return to UB in two days. Got tons to tell everyone about. This has been an amazing experience.

Elder and Sister Caldwell