Friday, April 24, 2009

Hong Kong - Part 4

Thought we had best work on finishing our Hong Kong trip report.

Following the wonderful experiences we had in the temple all week, we had some additional time to do a little bit of sightseeing. The group left Sunday morning after an early Sacrament Meeting arranged just for us. Their original departure date had been Monday, but they made some changes so that they could spend a little more time in Beijing as they made train connections there.

Our flight didn't leave until Tuesday morning, so we ended up with a day all to ourselves. Elder and Sister Gibbons (our area leaders over Employment who work out of Hong Kong where the area offices are) offered to take us to see a few things at the south end of Hong Kong Island -- a market called Stanley Market (one of the better known markets in Hong Kong) and Aberdeen, where there are lots of ships and small boats.

On the map, it looks farther than it is from Hong Kong harbor on the north of the island, to Stanley. You just take the bus straight through the mountain (there is a tunnel of course!) and you're there. The area is slightly less populated and very nice. We passed a place called 'Ocean Park'. We understand that it has an amusement area as well as an aquarium - the kind of place we would have liked to visit, had time allowed. Guess we'll have to come back some day!

Stanley market is quite a place. Again, the talent and artistry of these people are amazing. This is a discount type market but they have some wonderful treasures of art of various kinds as well as the expected tourist type trinkets. We could have spent most of a day there (and a lot of money!) if time had allowed. As it was, we did buy a couple of nice little souvenirs and had a good time looking around.

It is a very pretty area, as you can see.

This reminded Elder Caldwell very much of where he grew up as a child. The Puget Sound area of Washington state and the open ocean a few miles further west are very much like this area. Very green (a result of the ocean and the resulting moisture it brings) and the wonderful smell from the ocean breeze! The ocean seems to be a very relaxing place, for some reason.

Oh, one additional picture. We just couldn't pass this up! Some of the restrooms in China are like the ones we found here at Stanley. Look closely. Yup! No 'sit down' facility such as we are so used to. One just sort of 'squats' as you hang on to the railing! Very nicely finished, mind you! Just a bit different than we are used to! Sister Caldwell just couldn't stop laughing when she found these!

Next time: Aberdeen - a fascinating look at life 'on' the water as well as 'water life'.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Conference Time - For Us!

Elder Caldwell: This weekend was conference time for us. Ya, we know. A little bit late. The mission president decided that it might be best to delay conference an additional week to avoid clashing with Easter. The saints here are having difficulty assimilating that concept and it was felt that it would be better for them to have last week strictly for Easter. Unfortunately, it was never mentioned in the branch we attended.

Just the same, we had a wonderful conference weekend yesterday and today! I had been somewhat curious about how it would be to see conference after the fact. We are somewhat spoiled to have always been able to see it as it happened. But it wasn't very much different as a recording! We really enjoyed it.

In fact, there are some advantages. When we found a talk we especially liked, we could either replay it immediately, or download the written version immediately, for further reading and study -- or both. No waiting for nearly a week for them to appear on the internet!

Personally, I found several of the talks that must have been written with just myself in mind. How did they know? I've really got some changing to do now! Two of the talks I particularly enjoyed was the wonderful and powerful remarks by Elder Holland concerning the Savior (which we know has since been made used by the Church to make a wonderful video -- see the Church website or Mormon Messages on the web). I don't know that I have ever heard a more powerful testimony of what the Savior has provided for us. That is one talk I intend to study closely.

I also enjoyed Elder Pearson's remarks in the Saturday afternoon session. Another talk to be closely studied.

Then there was President Monson's opening remarks, and Elder José A. Teixeira of the Seventy. And also . . . . ok so I liked them all!

Oh, and one more thing. The weather also doesn't seem to differentiate between the real thing and a recording. It snowed today, just like at real conference!

Sister Caldwell: I think we all have our favorite speakers, and sometimes our favorite topics. I don't think anyone could disagree Jeffery R. Holland's talk was very touching and inspiring.

One talk that really caused me to think was given by Henry B. Eyring. Close to the end of his talk he referred us to Alma 34. Alma is teaching the people to have faith, humble themselves, repent and pray. He then asked these "poor" people to go out and serve the needy (like, who did he think they were?) He actually asked them to give to others what they were hoping he would promise to give to them.

Being here in Mongolia has been quite an experience. We are seeing some of the truly poor of the world, but as they accept the gospel, they are so willing and even anxious to give to others what they are hoping the Lord might have chosen to bless them with. Now where does that leave us "wealthy" Americans? I think in that one short example I felt new direction and determination to serve and bless the "needy and the naked, and visit the sick and afflicted."

I also enjoyed the messages about attending the temple. Some were directed at the sacrifice it takes to get to the temple. We are seeing that first hand. It has caused us to appreciate and remember how much we love the blessings of the temple. I hope I will never take that blessing for granted.

Beyond the messages we enjoyed so much, I think we learned how much we appreciate the technology that has allowed us to be able to view conference at all. I think we are learning to appreciate a lot of things over here.