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, September 24, 2012

Week 13! (Greetings from Preston!)

Greetings from Preston!

I've officially moved to Preston and I'm now serving with Elder Chan from Hong Kong and Elder Zavala from Utah!

The world is incredibly small! As most of you with Facebook might know by now, Elder Zavala's sister served in the same mission as Sujie! I got the email from Sujie with the cute sisters & brothers photos. Elder Zavala also got a long email with many photos of Sisters Zavala and Chong's mission.

This is where the world gets even smaller - Elder Chan knows one of the Sisters in one of the photos Sister Zavala took during her mission. Apparently Sister Hui was a close friend of Elder Chan's sister! Even better - if you haven't found out already, Jonny Liu was Elder Zavala's MTC teacher! It's definitely no coincidence that Elder Chan, Elder Zavala and I are all serving together here in Preston :)

It is getting COLD here in England. The temperature is hovering just over 10 degrees Celcius here. The missionaries from Utah tell me that although England has relatively warmer temperatures compared to Utah, the cold here really bites because it's a lot more humid here. I'm not sure how much longer I'm still going to be glad that England isn't as hot and humid as Malaysia and Singapore XD

To answer Sujie's question about what I put in Elder Cai's omelette, I think I sliced up some onions, peppers, mushrooms and sausages. I surrounded it with slices of apple, and topped it with a little heart clumsily fashioned out of part of the apple core :P I would say the omelette consisted of 10% food and 90% admiration for Elder Cai. By the way, have I mentioned how great a missionary Elder Cai is?

(I wrote that last sentence to appease Elder Cai, although it IS true)

It's interesting how Mom described me as her sunshine baby in her recent email. People have pointed out that my smile is rather... intense. My Mission President, President Preston, once asked me if I could frown, just to see if it was actually possible. Elder Cai described my smiles in my photos as 170%, whereas when I'm not deliberately smiling my smile is at least at 120%. Other people have told me that they want to laugh just looking at my smile. As it gets rainy-er and colder here in England I hope I can continue to bring sunshine to the people here!

In case Mom might be wondering what language is spoken between a Malaysian, an American, and a Hong Kong, all of whom are serving a mandarin-speaking mission together, I will attempt to describe how it is like.

My first instinct is to speak English with Elder Zavala, who in turn actively strives to speak Mandarin to improve his grasp of the language. I speak to Elder Chan in increasingly inaccurate mandarin (I've come to realise just how Hong Kong-ish Malaysian mandarin is the more I speak to him) and occasionally, for no apparently reason, in English with an increasingly Hong Kong-ish accent. Elder Chan has in turn picked up a bit of the Liverpool accent in his English, which is funny (where else will you hear a mix of the Hong Kong and Liverpool accent?). We occasionally speak some Cantonese too, which is funny.

Elder Sapaden and I. He's a brilliant pianist, and for a Multi-Zone Training he improvised a combination of two hymns while I conducted the choir :) Elder Cai told me it was the first time 2 musically trained missionaries were present in a single training. What a blessing!

Some Chinese food I cooked with Elder Cai :)

I have to go now. Hope to hear from all of you soon!

Much love,

Elder Chong

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Week 12!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello everyone!

Big news! It's been confirmed that I will be transferring to Preston this week. Elder Cai will indeed be training 2 of the incoming new missionaries, while Elder Chan will train another, as well as follow-up train me (I have 3 out fo 12 weeks left of in-field training). 

I am really going to miss serving with Elder Cai. It is unlikely that we will ever serve together again, because he will be finishing his mission in December, and he will likely be training the new missionaries from now till December. Not only have I learnt a LOT from Elder Cai, but I have also found him utterly hilarious. Those two incoming trainees are very blessed to have him as their trainer!

Manchester has been great. There are so many Chinese students pouring in that we Chinese-speaking missionaries have a lot of work to do! There are many people who are waiting to hear the word of God.

It seems I'm not able to read any of your emails this week since none have arrived during or before my email time today. I look forward to reading your emails next week!

Much love,
Elder Chong
Plenty of photos this week!
The McArthurs are the senior couple missionaries serving in the ward. Their home is always open to the YSA and we often teach people at their place. They cook delicious meals for all the YSA every Sunday!
This is me and Jordan, a member in the ward I'm serving in. He has been a great help with the missionary work and has recently submitted his own mission papers!
Me and Helen. Helen was one of the teachers in the MTC and she is also in the ward I'm serving in. She is an amazing person! If every member of our church were like her we'd all be translated like the city of Enoch.
Elder Cai wearing our "roleplaying face" which we use when we practise teaching lessons  
A photos of Elder Cai and I with Anny, another person we have been teaching.  
This is Fiona (someone we are teaching) and me. Elder Cai is convinced that we look like we could be siblings. I'll let you decide from the photo.
Having a kebab! There are plenty of takeaway shops here in Manchester where we can get kebabs :D  
A photo of me with a giant banana at one of the homes we were teaching at!  
I had loads of pasta this week - I cooked a large pot of sauce (lasted me about 5-6 meals). I chopped up some onions, mushrooms and peppers and cooked them with readymade sauce and some minced beef, then made meatballs out of the remaining minced beef. We actually didn't have any flour in our flat for me to make meatballs, but thanks to Elder Cai's ingenuity, he suggested that I could try using the pancake mix I had instead. Mmmmm..... (PS Mom: I bought readymade salad to go with my pasta! Aren't you proud that I proactively eat my vegetables? :P)

Some High Bran cereal I bought to load up on fibre in the morning. Elder Cai insists that it is shredded cardboard. (They taste almost like it, to be honest)
An omelette I cooked for Elder Cai one morning to show my appreciation for him ;P  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week 11!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello everyone!
It just struck me a few days ago, when someone asked me how long I've been out on a mission, that I've been out for more than 2 months. Time goes by so quickly here that I simply cannot afford to waste any time. As missionaries, the time we have on our missions is the Lord's time, and hence we ought to make the best use of these very short 2 years to labour in the Lord's vineyard.
The missionary work in the area is visibly beginning to move forward - plenty of students are coming in to Manchester to begin their studies this month. Elder Cai and I have been very busy going from appointment to appointment and talking to people on the street. There's nothing better than coming back to the flat at the end of a busy day knowing that we've done all that we could to share the gospel and to invite others to come unto Christ.
To answer Mom's question about what language Elder Cai and I use between ourselves, it would be mainly American English XD Elder Cai's first language is English, although his spoken Chinese is pretty solid. We occasionally switch to Chinese without realising it, though. There was a time when we were roleplaying to practise teaching a lesson during our Companionship Study. We were speaking in English at first, but halfway through we both switched to Chinese without realising it :P Elder Cai speaks Cantonese as well, and is able to briefly share the gospel in Cantonese when we're out on the streets. However, he often uses Cantonese to joke. Speaking of joking, the two of us have an inside joke about "Immoral People." For some reason, we found it extremely funny to come up with descriptions of "Immoral People," or "Bu4 Dao4 De2 De Ren2" in Chinese. We laughed for a good 5 minutes when we first came up with it and still laugh over it whenever one of us brings it up. I'm not sure how funny you may find it, but here are some examples:
1. People who don't recycle "Bu4 huan2 bao3 de ren2"
2. People who only eat meat and no vegetables
3. People who pick only the prawns from a vegetable dish
4. People who brush their teeth without toothpaste
5. People who skip a shower
6. People who eat a bit of your egg when you offer them some of your instant noodles
During the week I had a dream in which I did something wrong and tried to cover up my mistake. As a result, the event snowballed in my dream, and by the time the alarm rang and I woke up, I was extremely exhausted and exTREMELY relieved that it was all but a bad dream. Let that be a lesson to all of us not to try to cover up our mistakes but to come clean about them!
Last Monday I learnt an important lesson about murmuring, or NOT murmuring, to be precise. Elder Cai and I had finished our Preparation Time and were going about proselyting. People were very quick to reject us that day, and I was getting frustrated. I voiced my frustrations to Elder Cai, lamenting how difficult it was to find Chinese people who were truly interested in learning about Jesus Christ. Just minutes later, we came across a young man who was interested, and we taught a lesson about God on the spot. Throughout that lesson I felt as if God was rebuking me for my impatience, and needless to say, I didn't complain during the rest of the week!
I would like to point out, however, that "success" in a mission is not measured by the number of people missionaries are able to teach, bring to church or baptise. Instead, a successful missionary is someone who is committed to doing the Lord's work, someone who stays worthy to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost and to heed the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Being a successful, committed missionary isn't a smooth-sailing task, however. We learn from the examples of the sons of Mosiah, who are among the greatest missionaries noted in the Book of Mormon. In Alma 26:27, Ammon notes, "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success."
We learn many valuable things about missionary work from this verse alone. Firstly, we learn that Ammon and his brethren were not immune to disappointment. Their hearts were "depressed," and they "were about to turn back." Ammon and his brethren were amazing missionaries, but they had to face disappointment, just as we struggle in our lives as we try to follow Jesus Christ.
Secondly, we learn the value of heeding the Lord's counsel. They were about to turn back, but they heeded the Lord's counsel to continue to preach to the Lamanites. Likewise, we must continue to heed the counsel of the Holy Ghost when we face challenges in our lives. It is easy for us to feel resentful when we are faced with difficulties, and this often encourages us to disregard and become deaf to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Finally, the Lord didn't tell Ammon and his brethren that they would have an easy time either; He did quite the opposite, in fact. He counseled them to "bear with patience [their] afflictions". Patience, Elder Chong! Patience!
I know that our Saviour and Lord understands all of us individually. He loves us and wants us to be happy. True happiness comes when we live the teachings of Jesus Christ and have the eternal perspective in mind. I leave with you my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Much love,
Elder Chong

Monday, September 10, 2012

Week 10!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Cai before his mission, when he did some modeling. I'll be sure to get a signed copy from him soon!
One of my favourite photos of Elder Cai and I :)

A photo of a missionary outing to a Pizza Hut Buffet on transfer day :D

With Tereza, someone we taught, who has since moved to Norwich.

Dear all,

Today marks the first official day of my 2nd transfer cycle. Elder Cai and I spent the last week adjusting to each others' habits and teaching styles, as well as re-establishing expectations with the people Elder Peterson and I had previously been teaching in the area. Elder Cai had served in this area for several transfers previously, and hence knows the area and the members very well. He knows a couple of great locations to speak to people!

I am truly blessed to be follow-up trained by Elder Cai, not only because he is such an excellent example of a missionary, but also because there is no day that goes by without laughter. The magnitude of his wittiness is just about equal to that of his boldness and diligence as a missionary. His cooking is also amazing, although I like to tell others that his cooking is 60% ego, 30% MSG and 10% actual food.

Sujie, I thought it was pretty funny when you mentioned how you and Jay had cravings for eggs after seeing the photos in one of my previous emails. I learnt from both Elder Peterson and Elder Cai that when a missionary goes tracting, he can spot a Chinese home by observing the rubbish they leave outside - if there are plenty of empty egg cartons, the home is almost guaranteed to be Chinese!

Also, Elder Cai confirmed that Zavala is indeed coming into the England Manchester Mission as a mandarin-chinese speaking missionary! I'm pretty sure that during our 2 years here in England we'll be able to continue the Zavala & Chong legacy!

This past week the missionary week in the area has been relatively slow. I believe that Elder Cai and I have been working harder than ever, but the past week has been crunch time for most of the Chinese people in the area. Many graduate students are about to submit their dissertations, while the new students who are taking English classes have to submit papers, prepare oral presentations and so on. Hence, many people are just too busy to meet us or to listen to the message from God that we share.

The current situation reminded me of the time before my mission, when I was an extremely busy student in Junior College. At the height of my busyness in school, I often neglected my personal study of the Book of Mormon, as well as Institute attendance, and I paid the spiritual price for my negligence. I had daily reading of the Psalms with my girlfriend at that time, but I have learnt that studying the Bible alone and not in addition to the Book of Mormon cannot bring us as much spiritual nourishment as studying both together. Although the Bible is the word of God, there is, to date, truly no book better than the Book of Mormon. I urge all of you to make meaningful study of the Book of Mormon an essential part of your everyday routine. When we study the Book of Mormon each day and seek to apply the principles we learn from it, we will be able to see many positive changes in our lives. More importantly, we invite the Spirit to be with us, therefore allowing us to more fully receive God's blessings.

Ern and Ray, make daily Book of Mormon study a habit now - you will not regret it! Even though you have plenty of things to study for school, it is important to place a higher priority on the word of God. When you sincerely study and ponder the teachings in the Book of Mormon, your mind is enlightened by the Spirit, and as a side bonus, this will be a great help to you when you focus on your secular studies later. I personally studied the Book of Mormon every day during my O Level period so many years ago, and in no way did that negatively affect my results, so I invite you to do the same!

I have to go now. I leave you my testimony that God watches over us always, and we can find happiness by aligning our will to His. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Much love,
Elder Chong

Monday, September 03, 2012

Week 9!!!!!!!!!

With my first trainer, Elder  Peterson
With Sister Amanda Loh from Singapore!
Hello everyone!

I apologise for the late email. This week is transfer week, so Preparation Time on Monday was taken away and changed into Transfer Time on Wednesday, and so I have to email on Thursday.

This transfer cycle, I will be serving with Elder Cai in the YSA Ward in Manchester, which is the same area in which I served with Elder Peterson. Elder Peterson went home a week before the actual transfer week because he had to get ready for school, so I spent the past week with my Zone Leaders at that time, who were Elder Sanders and Elder Cai. This transfer cycle, Elder Cai has been released from his calling as Zone Leader (he was euphoric when he found out) and is now my follow-up trainer. However, 3 new Chinese-speaking Elders will be coming in from Provo in the middle of the transfer, and since we are only left with 2 experienced Chinese-speaking Elders (Elder Cai, my current companion, and Elder Chan from Hong Kong), it is likely that Elder Cai will train 2 of the incoming Elders, while Elder Chan will train 1. Our guess is that I might go over to join Elder Chan to finish my training. Of course, these plans could change at any point in time, but if it does happen, it would mean that by the end of my 12-week in-field training period, I will have been trained by 4 different missionaries!

Elder Cai, my new companion, is an AMAZING missionary. He is 6 foot 3, and was born in Shen Zhen, China, and when he was 11 he moved with his family to the "Holy City of Las Vegas", as he likes to put it. It was there that he and his parents met the missionaries and joined the Church. Today, he is very much half-American and half-Chinese in his ways, which is an intersting mix. At this point, English is his first language, though he is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. He is very bold and direct in his missionary work, which is very different from Elder Peterson, who was more inclined towards a friendlier and softer approach to missionary work. Of course, that's not to say that Elder Cai isn't friendly. He has a hilarious talent at making people feel uncomfortable or awkward, thanks to his height and also the fact that he enjoys deliberately making people feel awkward. I cannot even begin to describe what it's like serving with Elder Cai. All I can say is that he is a fantastic missionary and I'm learning a lot from him. I'm thoroughly enjoying serving with him!

By the way, Elder Cai did some modelling before his mission. His pre-mission modelling photos can be found here

I find it interesting that Elder Cai is from Shen Zhen. About 7 years ago I had a dream in which I started calling one of my best friends Shen Zhen.. I woke up remembering that I had called my friend Shen Zhen, and I felt odd because I had never heard the term Shen Zhen before. Maybe that was a foretelling of how I would be serving with a missionary from Shen Zhen!

Speaking about dreams, in one of my recent dreams I was in a massive YSA Ward slumber party, and we were all getting up to go to Church on Sunday. I think it is good reflection of how all the members in the YSA Ward are starting to come back from their summer break. We have been having very low Church attendance in the ward, as is expected for a YSA Ward in a University area in the summer. Everyone is starting to come back as September approaches! This includes many Chinese students as well, and so Elder Cai and I are gearing up to go out and do a lot of finding and teaching!

I don't have much time for email today, so I have to sign off soon. I attached 2 photos, one with my first trainer, Elder  Peterson, and one with Sister Amanda Loh from Singapore! She just came out of the MTC and into the field yesterday and will be serving in the same ward as Elder Cai and me.

I know that God loves us all and is ready to bless us if we will seek His will. I leave you this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Much love,
Elder Chong