Hong Kong or bust!

HK Mission -leave30-years ago today I entered the Missionary Training Center (MTC) to begin my mission!  I spent 2-months in the MTC trying to learn Cantonese.  Then I spent the next 16-months in Hong Kong trying to communicate in that language in order to invite people to follow Christ.  It was one of the most difficult… most challenging… most trying… most spiritual… most glorious experiences of my life!  The opportunity to learn so much and to serve so much was truly life-changing.  It has affected everything I have done since.

In the MTC we ate, slept, studied and went to meetings… ate, slept, studied and went to meetings, etc.  Actually, there was regular exercise as well.  It seemed that every moment was scheduled, but there was time to write letters and time to hold deep, inspiring conversations with others in your group.  We were blessed to hold regular “cultural” lessons with Mary Ellen Edmunds.  Yes!  And, she taught a very inspiring Relief Society type of lesson to ALL the sisters in the MTC every Sunday.  After a month, the group before us left for Hong Kong and a new group came in after us.  At that time I was called to be the “Sisters’ Leader,” which was sort of like being the Relief Society President in our little branch.  Our branch consisted of elders and sisters going to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand.

One month later, I remember stepping off the plane into a very different world than the one I had been used to.  All the preparation in the MTC seemed for naught based on the cultural shock I felt.  Wow… the sights and the sounds and the smells!  It took a few weeks to soak it all in and try to acclimate to a third world country.  However, before long, I stopped seeing the differences and started to notice the similarities.  It’s hard to explain, but my focus switched from what I was missing in America to what I was gaining in Hong Kong… and mainly what I was gaining were relationships with amazing people.  I got to know members of my church living there and other missionaries serving there as well as new people I met on a daily basis who either accepted or rejected my message.

My time in Hong Kong passed too slowly at times and too quickly at other times.  Too many experiences to really explain in this one blog.  I guess that’s why missionaries typically describe their missions as the “best two years” or the best 18-months in the case of sisters.  It’s just really hard to come up with words that can adequately express it all.  For most missionaries, I think, it is a time to “find” yourself.  This is a reference to the scripture that describes losing yourself as a way to find yourself… see Matthew 16:24-27.  Towards the end of my mission I had another opportunity to serve and get to know all the sisters in my mission (about 40 of them!) when my companion and I were called to be the “Sister Leaders” in the mission.

At the time of my mission, January 1983 to July 1984, Hong Kong was owned or leased by the UK.  Our missionaries were not allowed to go into mainland China.  Since that time, a temple has been built on top of the mission home and the lease expired… changing the name of this mission from Hong Kong & Macau to the China Hong Kong Mission.  The language I learned to read and write, Cantonese, is less widely spoken than the Chinese dialect of Mandarin.  I feel it slipping away more and more each year.  I long to return there and have a reason to dust off my language abilities.

HK Mission -returnAfter 18-months, I stepped off the plane back in America.  I think my culture shock was greater on that day, because no one really prepares you for this transition.  In my little home town of Nephi, I kept wondering where all the people were and the sky seemed so blue when it was not blocked by tall buildings.  It took a few weeks to get “house trained” as my husband calls it.  But before I knew it I was already back to classes at BYU and had even applied to teach Cantonese at the MTC.  I was blessed to earn one of the few openings for teachers at the MTC.  That is where I met my husband after my mission.  He was teaching Thai just down the hall.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: “Pride of the Wasatch” | The Life & Times of Lorrie J.

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