It's been a great week. Elder Niel L. Andersen came to visit our mission this week, which was the highlight for the missionaries and the members here in Hong Kong. Elders Brown, Woods, Johnson and I were selected to perform a musical number when he visited the missionaries, and we sang "Joseph Smith's First Prayer." Mom, I know you're going to punish me (fortunately verbally), but I forgot to record it for you. My voice didn't crack, so no worries.
Elder Andersen had several uplifting things to say to the missionaries, especially in that if we expect to increase our faith and our desires, we must center and focus our study in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that as I've worked as hard as I can out here, the single greatest blessing is my testimony of the Atonement. When times get rough, everything seems so difficult, change isn't apparent, you feel weak and even worthless at times, you really begin to understand more fully the power of the Savior's sacrifice. To paraphrase Elder Holland in one of my favorite talks from him, "Missionary Work and the Atonement," we cannot ever expect anything in life to be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him. I've felt the enabling power of the Atonement as I've tried my best to "take up the cross," and I'm confident that no matter what challenge we face -- the Lord knows, understands, and has the power to help us overcome it.
I was more impressed, however, at Elder Andersen's address to the people of Hong Kong. I felt like he extended his hand of authority from the pulpit and gave everybody a personal wake-up slap of prophecy. He told everyone that Hong Kong is the gateway to all of Asia, including Mainland, and said that the Lord has His eye on this place like the Christus in Rio de Janiro. He thanked the members for their contributions and the thousands of missionaries that have come through here, which has resulted in a temple that has blessed thousands of members throughout Southeast Asia who don't have one, a strong church presence and powerful group of members. But then he said in a particularly loud voice, "But it is not enough!" He quoted from D&C 82 and 115 to illustrate the need for Zion to increase its borders and strengthen its defense, and said that work in Hong Kong has only just begun. He made it very clear that every member needs to step up their game, and we know as missionaries that growth in Hong Kong, regardless of the baptisms, has remained stagnant for the last 20-30 years because of the rate of less-activity. He said that if every member increases their faith and fulfills their role, they will succeed in the next 2-3 years in adding 2 Wards to every stake in Hong Kong. He said, "That is a righteous goal." It made me feel really special to be a part of the work here, recognizing the vital role that this small little place on the southern edge of China has in bringing the gospel to the Asian realm. There is a lot of vision, a lot of work, and a lot of faith that is being centered in Hong Kong, and the Lord has blessed me greatly to be a part of that. I earnestly hope to be a part of all of this later in my life, as Zion's borders increase and the world becomes more prepared for the coming of the Savior. Does anybody realize how awesome this is?!
Elder Woo and I have had a better week. Our numbers in lessons has bumped back up to normal. Chai Wan is a great place. We found a public estate this week with no guards - 28 floors and about 60 flats on each floor - which we have gone to knock doors nearly every day in the late afternoon. It's such a nice change to street finding. Do you hear that all you Elders in the states? I LIKE TRACTING.
Everybody keep the faith, stay strong, learn of the Savior, and watch prophecies be fulfilled! This work is God's work, and it is the best work. Join in sometime.