After much preparation, the young self-proclaimed Emperor of The Han Dynastory is now serving a full-time mission to the UK with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He will return in 2014.


Welcome to the Han Dynastory!

As I am now serving a full-time mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have left this blog under the stewardship of a family member, who may post updates on how I'm doing as he/she sees fit.

Enjoy your stay!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Week 5!!!!!

Hi Everyone!!!!

So it's Week 5 already and I've been out on the mission field for more than a full week. I've already been so blessed to see so many miracles! My companion Elder Peterson told me that there are miracles every day on the mission, but it is up to the spiritual sensitivity of each missionary to be able to notice them. It's just like in the Book of Mormon where prophets have testified that the very fact that we have the Sun, Earth, and Moon in constant orbit is a testament of a living God. It is up to us to have that spiritual sensitivity to feel and to know that there is a Creator.
This week I've had the chance to meet most of the investigators Elder Peterson had been teaching with his previous companion before I got transferred in. There are so many of them that it's hard to keep track of how each of them is doing! Our daily planning sessions, which are technically supposed to be half an hour, last forever because we have to make so many calls and write down so many things. It's truly a blessing to be so busy :)
One of the goals that I'm currently working on is to be able to find (meaning by meeting people on the street and sharing the Gospel to them) someone and set up a successful appointment, eventually resulting in the person(s) desiring to know more of the Gospel and that we are able to meet with him/her/them regularly. In other words, I'm striving to find new investigators. Thus far, we have many people to teach, but Elder Peterson shared with me his analogy (he uses tons of analogies when we teach) that what we want is to have an escalator of investigators, not an elevator of investigators. In the latter, we have many investigators in one elevator that goes up, bringing all of them to the Kingdom of God. Once it goes up, however, it comes back down empty and we will suddenly have nobody to help. On the other hand, the former, the escalator, allows us to maintain a constant stream of people progressing gradually towards the Kingdom of God. We are hence striving to have an escalator. Since I've arrived on the field, however, we have thus far been unable to find anyone new, and so it is my goal to contribute to the total number of people we're teaching, God willing! I have a quarter of a tub of ice cream waiting for me in our freezer as a self-declared reward for achieving this goal.
Last Wednesday we had a Multi-Zone Training. Our Zone Leaders gave a lesson at one point, and they shared a quote that "The purpose of life is to repent every day." I've found it to be very true - every morning when I wake up, instead of praising and thanking God for the good sleep, my first thought is "I can't wait to be able to return to this bed tonight." Clearly I need to repent every day! XD
This may come as a huge surprise to Mom, but I've never had any problems with waking up late since the first day in the MTC. In fact, I have a problem with waking up too early! Almost every morning I will wake up at 5.30am or 6am (our scheduled time to arise is 6.30am every day). I would go back to sleep, of course, but that means that I feel exhausted when I get up at 6.30am! One of my teachers in the MTC said that the Holy Ghost is with us during the day from the moment we get up to the moment we go to sleep. When it's time for bed, the Holy Ghost "lets go" of us to let us rest. In my case, I think the Holy Ghost doesn't want to wait until 6.30am for me to start doing God's work! In fact, just yesterday morning I had a dream, and in that dream, the Lord appeared to me and told me to "get to work!" which jolted me awake at 6am, which was admittedly rather unpleasant.

Obedience is a huge thing here in the England Manchester Mission. That was one of the things I was told by one of the missionaries who was already out in the field while I was still in the MTC. Obedience is a fundamental principle in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and obviously we missionaries should pay special attention to it! God, being a loving God, wants to bless us, and that is why He gives us commandments, because blessings come from obedience (D&C 130:20-21). Some people have even wished that we had more commandments so that we can have more blessings. I'm not in a particular hurry to have more commandments given to me, but I can definitely see the benefits of this principle when applied sincerely and correctly. Before the Mission it was the Law of Tithing. Here on the Mission, everything counts, to be honest, but I can see the Word of Wisdom in action, for I have been able to "run and not be weary", and "walk and not faint" in spite of the demanding schedule, missionary walking pace, and other exciting things like blisters all over my feet.
As I have mentioned at the start of this email, I have been blessed to witness many miracles even in this short time while out on the field. I'd like to share one briefly: A little over a week ago, Elder Peterson received a referral from a missionary in Bristol, which is in the London South Mission. (for those unfamiliar with missionary terminology, referrals are the contact details of people who desire to be taught by the missionaries but are unable to be taught by the missionaries who first met them) We were given the contact details of a young woman and I made the call to get to know the person and arrange for a time to meet. It turned out that the missionary who sent the referral was none other than Elder Huang, my dear friend from Singapore! What a wonderful blessing!
The miracle didn't end there, because at first when we tried to set an appointment with the woman, it didn't seem possible because she was too busy travelling, so we decided that we'll contact her again in August. However, during the week, I felt two promptings from the Holy Ghost to call her again. To make a long story short, we were able to meet her on the street while she was out running some errands on that very day. She was very interested and was keen to learn more and was eager to learn how to pray. We had a wonderful lesson on the go and we'll be meeting her again in August!
I sincerely believe that there are no coincidences as a missionary. Everything happens for a reason where the Lord's work is concerned. There was a time when my companion and I ended several consecutive lessons late, and then went to the wrong place to meet the next person, and hence arrived at the proper meeting place late, only to spend more time waiting for the next person. It was during this brief time that we had to wait that I was able to approach some to share the Gospel with her, and she turned out to be the only one willing to hear our message that day! When we live our lives in accordance to God's teachings, He will place us at the right place at the right time.
My testimony of God's love has also been greatly strengthened. Just like how parents like to give their children a treat every now and then, God sometimes gives us some nice little blessings on the side. Yesterday, my companion and I brought some of our investigators to a Fireside, and the speakers happened to be President and Sister Walker, my MTC Presidents! We had a wonderful time catching up briefly. Later, at the refreshments, I got to meet Brother Rojas, who was one of my trainers in the MTC! Brother Rojas was and is and will always be a fantastic (and hilarious) teacher whom I have learnt many things from ;) It was a real treat to be able to see him again!

I need to be off now, so I shall leave with you my testimony that God lives, and He truly loves us and wants to bless us, if only we would follow Him!
Thanks for all your emails!
I love you all!
Elder Chong

Week 4!!!! (23 July 2012)

Dear all,
It's proper P-day again! We started off the day with our usual personal and companionship study, and then had mandatory house cleaning for about half an hour. I cleaned the toilet while my companion Elder Peterson cleaned the kitchen, and then I cleaned the nice big mirror we have in our living area while he hoovered (that's the British term for vacuuming) the living room. Nice to be able to clean the place a bit! The living area, which is where we study, is in quite a bit of a mess. They weren't kidding when they told me that Chinese-speaking missionaries have a lot of investigators to teach - there are teaching records all over the place! Each night during our companionship prayer before we go to bed, we go through a list of our investigators and pray for each of them specifically - the prayers last about 10-15 minutes each night @_@ There's been some new arrangements though - We were previously in charge of teaching all the Chinese people in the Manchester YSA Ward, the Ashton Ward and the Stretford Ward. Yesterday we got a call with the instruction that another companionship will be in charge of the teaching of the Chinese in the Ashton and Stretford Wards, so Elder Peterson and I can now focus on just the Chinese in the YSA Ward. These past few days I've met many of these Chinese people who are learning more of the gospel. It's been a very interesting experience and I've met some who are new here and still speak Chinese most of the time, as well as some who have been in England for a while and have developed a sound grasp of the English language (complete with the accent and everything). There's still quite a few people whom I've not met yet!

The weather here is definitely cooler than it is in Singapore. At the moment the sun is out, which is a real treat to most people here, and Elder Peterson and I go about without our suit coats on. I never thought I would be sweating here thanks to the lower temperatures, and that's because I failed to anticipate the missionary walking pace! For the first few days I had to jog every 30 seconds to keep up with my companion! I think I've achieve his pace now - at the cost of four blisters on my feet XD However, as I tell my companion, I quote the scriptures out of context that "man shall walk by faith", and so I am using my faith to walk and not my feet, so the blisters do not bother me. Well, except when I have to walk downhill. THAT hurts.
It is a little bit noisy outside our flat, since it's right in front of the road. When I say flat, I mean something that is rather different from the Singaporean HDB flat. I'm not too sure how to describe how flats look like here, so maybe I'll send a photo some day. Anyway, about the noise, it's not too bad because we're not in front of a main road. We keep the living room windows closed when we need some silence to study. Thankfully, the bedroom windows face a much quieter area, so we can leave those windows open.

It is expensive here in the UK to eat out, so the missionaries here generally cook their own meals at home, unless kind members invite them to their homes to have meals. Elder Peterson and I pool our money to buy groceries together and cook meals together. He's been well-trained by all his previous Chinese companions! He has an appetite for spiciness and he's able to cook some pretty good Chinese dishes! I've been able to cook a couple of dishes too, although it's difficult to get the variety of leafy greens available back home. In any case, I won't be worried about missing rice while I'm serving in this area!

One of the funny/odd things happening to me while serving here in the UK is that I'm developing a slightly stronger American accent, which is rather ironic. More than two thirds of the missionaries in the MTC were Americans, while the rest were mainly Europeans, of which only ONE was British. Our MTC Presidency was also completely American. The only exposure I had to the British accent (of which there are various kinds too) were from our teachers and some other staff in the MTC. Due to some bizarre programming within my body, I feel inclined to imitate the American accent whenever I speak to people here, and it doesn't help that my companion is American haha. It's really strange, because as hard as I try, I just can't use my natural Manglish/Singlish accent with him - it just switches mid-sentence to imitate his. One of my colleagues back in ACS Barker once told me that with musician's ears, we have a tendency to hear the intricacies of different accents and imitate them subconsciously - it took her a year to drop her New Zealand accent when she came back from her studies in New Zealand to Singapore. At one point in the MTC I was able to demonstrate the Singlish accent by pretending that I was on a phone with a friend - nobody had any idea what I was saying hehe.

I was asked to bear my testimony at the YSA Ward sacrament meeting yesterday, since it was my first Sunday with them. I started off in English and closed in pure testimony in Chinese. As I bore my testimony of the Gospel in Chinese, I felt the Spirit bear witness of my testimony, especially when I expressed my belief in eternal families. Someone from the congregation later approached me during the day and told me that he could feel the Spirit very strongly when I bore my testimony, even though he could not understand Chinese at all. For him, the experience strengthened his faith, for he could see that faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is strong in all parts of the world.

Well, I had better get going - Elder Peterson and I need to get some shopping done. I need to get some essential items to survive Britian, while he wants to get some "British stuff" to bring back to the States when he goes home.

Thanks for all your prayers and your emails!
Much love,
Elder Chong

Week 3!!!! (Part 2)

Hi again, everyone!

So I've been settled in my mission area now! It turns out that I'm able to email today in lieu of the transfer interrupting P-days for missionaries involved in the transfer. Tuesday was my last day in the MTC and we had a most powerful testimony meeting in the evening. The Spirit could be felt very strongly and I felt as if I had known many of the missionaries
in the 
MTC before, perhaps during the Pre-existence. President Walker, our MTC President, had the same thought. We all said our farewells that night, because we were leaving the MTC at different times of the morning the next day. My group heading to the Manchester Mission had to get up at 5.15am.

So on Wednesday we made our way to the Mission home where we met our Mission President, President Preston, and his wife, Sister Preston. They're both really nice and President Preston is very funny. He still remembered the time when he visited the MTC briefly where we first met, and when I excitedly and half-jokingly went up to tell him that Sister Gong, a native Chinese Sister who was serving in his Mission, could understand my Chinese XD President Preston decided to share that with all the missionaries who were at the transfer meeting (where the new missionaries including myself were introduced to our trainers)

So we found out on Wednesday the areas we would serve in, and I'm currently serving in Manchester itself!!!! :D It's a wonderful place and I'm loving the place, the people, and to some extent even the weather haha. It's funny, though - sometimes I feel like complaining about the heat on some of the relatively warmer days. You'd think that having come from Singapore I would no longer feel the need to complain about feeling hot, but it is apparently that I can never be satisfied (at least until winter, perhaps).

I am serving in the Young Single Adults Ward in Manchester as a Mandarin Chinese Speaking missionary. My companion and trainer is Elder Peterson, from Alpine Utah. He and his previous companion, Elder Chan from Hong Kong, have done a lot of missionary work with the Chinese people here in Manchester and I'm excited to be a part of it. I'll be here for this transfer cycle, which is 6 weeks. Not sure where I'll be sent to next cycle but I'm definitely happy to be here at this time! President Preston did tell me that in this Mission I may occasionally teach in English as well, so perhaps in the future I'll get to see some of the other parts of England and not just the areas where the Chinese-speaking missionaries are needed :)

I've already taught a number of lessons with Elder Peterson. Yesterday we met with Daisy and Anny, two Chinese girls who came to study in Manchester only weeks ago. It was my first time teaching a lesson in Chinese (I didn't even have that opportunity in the MTC) and I was surprised by how much I was able to say. I had been praying to Heavenly Father for the gift of tongues while in the MTC and had been studying the Chinese language materials I had brought along with me (which was a good thing, because the England MTC did not have those materials). Truly, Heavenly Father is blessing me, because I have not felt any difficulty in teaching the lessons in Chinese as long as I have studied for the topic. 

Just a short miracle I'd like to share:
Elder Peterson and I met up with Sister Sun today ("Sun" as in "Sun Zhong Shan" in Chinese). She is a middle-aged lady who has been learning about the Gospel for 2 years now. I asked her how she came to
know the missionaries, and she said that she was given a Book of Mormon 2 years ago by a missionary. However, they were unable to exchange contact information and she flew back from England to China 2 days later. A year later, when she was back in England, the very same missionary knocked on her door. She knew then that God had sent that missionary and she expressed her faith that God is watching over her.

I've got to be off now. Thanks for all your emails and I'll email again next Monday!

Much love,
Elder Chong

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Week 3!

Hi Everyone!

Really rushed today! It's not actually P-day but it's the day just before I head out into the mission field. Hence, I have about 10 minutes just to send a short email to let you guys know that I'm going forth to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ for real! XD I've printed out all your emails so I'll be able to read them and reply during the next P-day out on the field, which I think is on Mondays.

It's been really awesome here in the MTC and I'm going to miss it a lot, but I'm pretty sure being out on the field is going to be a lot better :D

I'll just share a really quick experience - About three nights ago I decided to say my personal prayer at night in Chinese, out loud. It was probably the most powerful prayer I've ever offered in my entire life. Probably because I had to take time to come up with the words, which meant that there was a lot of silence that allowed me to better feel the Spirit as I prayed. That has really strengthened my faith.

I've been feeling the love of Christ a lot here, and I am really really really really eager to go out and share that with everyone. One of the Elders in my district called me a bloodhound just waiting to be unleashed haha.
Looking forward to reading your emails later! I saw some snippets of stuff and I'm really excited!

Lots of love,
Elder Chong
A special group of devoted missionaries

Email home - only 30 minutes once a week
Singing Malaysia National Anthem "Negaraku"
Elder Chong accompanying another Elder

Street contacting

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Week 2

Me and Elder McCarthy

Me and Elder Gabler, my new companion who is from Forst, Germany (it's 10 minutes away from Poland) and will be serving as an English-speaking missionary in the Birmingham mission (which is where Elder Kenneth Lee is serving!)

P6081392 shows Elder Gabler's collection of four-leaved clovers. He came up to me in the room the other night and was like "so do you want to find out why I am so lucky?" haha XD

Hi Everyone!
Once again, I'm limited to about half an hour of email time here in the MTC so I've printed out Mom and Dad's emails and will read them later (and hence any direct replies that I have will be in the next email).
So I've finally had a full week here in the England MTC. It's been so amazing and it feels as if I've been here for a month already. I met a couple of missionaries who are already out on the field in my mission area (Manchester Mission) and they told me that each day feels like a week and each month feels like a week as well. Our perception of time gets really strange when we're on our missions, it seems.
Last Friday I was involved in a surprise "transfer" within the MTC. Elder McCarthy (my previous companion) and I were split and Elder Luo (see previous email) became his new companion while Elder Gabler became my new companion. Elder Luo and Elder Gabler were both from the English-as-Second-Language programme and were deemed sufficiently proficient in the English language to be moved to the standard MTC programme which Elder McCarthy and I are in. Our MTC President, President Walker told Elder McCarthy and me that we were chosen because he wanted us to be able to pull our new companions up to where we were. It was a bit of a pity, since Elder McCarthy and I were really getting to know each other and we had just managed to work out our teaching dynamics.  Oh well.
Couple of interesting things that have happened in the past week:
1. I stubbed my right thumb on a sharp corner of a table in the classroom. It bled and I spilt some of my blood on my study journal by accident. I guess I've sealed my testimony with my blood.
2. We went out to Manchester to go street contacting yesterday! For some reason, Elder Gabler and I spoke to many, many homeless people. It was a really sweet experience because I could feel the love of Christ flowing through me as I spoke to His children out on the streets.
3. I've been playing the piano a LOT. I've lost track of the number of musical numbers I've accompanied as well as the hymns I've played. Tomorrow there will be a fireside and I will accompanying Elder Muller for a musical item. Elder Muller is from Germany and will be serving back in Germany, but more importantly, he brought his violin along!!!! We've already had a couple of opportunities to play together :) I'm just really grateful that Mom and Dad gave us the opportunity to learn how to play the piano when we were young, because my ability to play the piano (particularly to sight read and even improvise a bit here and there) has really given me many chances to serve. So thanks Mom and Dad!
By next week I should be out on the field in Manchester already! I've heard from missionaries out in the field that they desperately need mandarin-chinese speakin missionaries, because they had about 12 at first and they're down to 4 now. I was informed that there is a strong possibility that I will have "too many people to teach". Sounds very exciting! I've been working on getting my gospel terms in chinese. Unfortunately I've been banned from speaking chinese with Elder Luo, because he's here to improve his grasp of the English language. Hence, most of my preparation to share the gospel in the chinese language has to be done on my own, especially since they do not have a language study programme for me here, nor do they allocate any language study time. As a result, I've had to do my own language study during personal time or during meals. Most recently I started doing my personal study using my chinese language materials instead of my usual english ones. I've found it to be a more spiritual experience because I had to rely more on the Spirit to understand what I was reading haha. Fear not, though - I actually could understand everything I was studying, albeit at a slower rate.
This week my testimony of the temples as well as the Priesthood has been greatly strengthened. I have also begun to deeply appreciate the hardships they endured to built up the Zion we are now a part of today. Truly, their faith is remarkable and I really hope to have at least the amount of faith they had when I go out to do the Lord's work.
I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows each of us personally and wants the best for all of us. I know that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and does know exactly how we feel. I know that through His Atonement we can be cleansed from our sins, and by following His ways, we can find much peace, joy, and happiness in our lives, not only in this life but also in the life to come. This is my testimony which I bear in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Much love,
Elder Chong

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Week 1

Hi everyone!
It's my first Preparation Day! :D We have P Day on Tuesdays here and so it's only been less than a week since I got here at the England MTC. There's a half-hour timer at the top right-hand corner of my browser so I only have that long before it automatically closes.
I have had so many wonderful, funny, and even challenging experiences since I've been set apart as a missionary. Just that night when I flew from Singapore to Amsterdam, for some reason I zoned out while getting on the plane and mistook my aisle for another, so I made a huge halt of the traffic while I stumbled to the other aisle, only to realise that I had gotten it right the first time round, so I fumbled my way back and eventually found my seat. The man seated next to me leaned over and joked about my little adventure trying to find my seat.
"I guess that's why the captain is making an announcement that we are 5 minutes behind schedule," I replied with a sheepish grin.
"Well, you only just about managed to block about half of the passengers on the plane," he chuckled.
And so it turned out that my tendency to embarrass myself in public proved to be a great conversation-starter. I had a great conversation with the man (whose name I somehow never asked for) for a few hours during the flight. He was from Amsterdam and had never heard of the church before. Nevertheless, we had a great chat about all kinds of things, and he was curious to hear a little about what I was about to do as a missionary. Before I got off the plane at Amsterdam I wrote him a note wishing him all the best and also inviting him to visit if he wanted to know about the Gospel I was flying all the way to Manchester to share. Didn't expect the missionary work to start so soon, but I'm glad it did!
I arrived at the Manchester airport and heard from the customs officer that there had been many other LDS missionaries who had been flying in throughout the day. However, there was nobody waiting for me when I reached the arrivals at the airport. I waited for about an hour before I finally managed to contact my mission office, and they informed me that someone would come to pick me up, along with another missionary, within the hour. I later found out that I was supposed to be picked up with another group of missionaries who arrived just a little sooner than I had, but for no reason the person in charge decided to leave without me -_-
The area where the England MTC is beautiful. I love the scenery here (gentle hills, and quaint houses). The England MTC is located near Chorley and has the best food ever. Seriously. The salad bar always has a few interesting dishes (it serves more than just salad). It took us missionaries a while to adjust to the way summer here works. On our very first night my 3 roommates and I were each awoken between 3am to 6.30am (the scheduled time to wake up) thanks to the summer sun shining on our faces. One of my roommates told a sister missionary about our experience, to which she replied:
"You guys didn't use the blinds, did you, Elder?"
My MTC Companion is Elder McCarthy from Boulder, Colorado (see photo P6011380). We got along even before we found out we were going to be assigned as MTC companions. We've been having so much fun together and have been having a great time learning the doctrine of Christ and preparing to teach. We're still working out our teaching dynamics as a companionship but otherwise we are absolutely best of friends :D Sadly, Elder McCarthy will be going to the Scotland/Ireland Mission so I won't be seeing him in the Manchester Mission.
On Sunday we were taken on an Church history tour of Lancashire, which was were the attached photos were taken. The first photo is of Elder McCarthy and me, while the second photo shows me with Elder Luo, who is from China and will be serving a Mandarin Chinese speaking mission in Scotland/Ireland. The third photo shows me in the classic British telephone booth, I suppose.
I have really learnt a great deal in the few days I've spent in the MTC. The doctrine of Christ has never seemed as simple and as beautiful as I know it now. Truly, Heavenly Father loves us so much.
It is my testimony that our Heavenly Father lives, that He loves us and that He sent His Son to die for us. The doctrine we are learning and teaching is founded upon Christ and His love for us, and I feel so much love for Heavenly Father's children.
Looking forward to sending another update next week!
Much love,
Elder Chong