............. I'm training aGAIN. I'm so excited! I'm staying in Chai Wan this move with Elder Parker and his new trainee, and we'll be training two fresh Americans for the next 9 weeks. Elder Parker has become one of my best friends out here, and we're kicking out our natives and bringing in the fire of two new missionaries. I love Elder Woo, and I'm going to miss him a lot, but I know he's ready to storm up a new part of Hong Kong. There are 22 new Elders coming to the mission this week, and several missionaries are going home (including Elder Farnsworth, who changed my life in Hung Shui Kiu), so virtually everybody who isn't a Zone Leader will be training next move. Chances are, my new companion is going to be 18 years old.
I think I'm ready for such a fresh change. It's been a slow few weeks, but our hearts, desires, and diligence have not slowed. Chai Wan has significantly improved since I first came, with greater enthusiasm in the Ward to participate in missionary work and a couple of baptisms between our companionships. The enthusiasm coming into the mission from an MTC group that almost had 30 people in it is going to be huge, and I think it will make a huge difference in our area. We will labor to maintain the trust of the members and harness this new enthusiasm to begin Zion's increase! Gaah, I'm so ready for this.
Quick story for the week: We frequent a place called Aldrich Bay Park to find people to teach. There are always several people who walk through it with their families to play and rest, or use it as a shortcut to get home. Something special about Hong Kong is the fact that it seems that literally every square inch of the land has a working security guard (which explains why I hardly ever report door-knocking experiences). Even the public parks have a daily guard. Usually they aren't anything special. ABP's park guard, however, is a very special man. He lovesBuddha. He lives, breathes, and sweats the old sage. And you bet his two favorite people to see walking on his territory are a couple of young, smartly dressed guys with black name tags. For weeks Elder Woo and I would always be on the watch for our friend, because every time he sees us he likes to tell us to stop believing in Jesus and follow him by believing in Buddha. They are among the most hilarious conversations I've ever had on my mission, but it always interrupts our contacting, so we would move quickly to avoid him. He's got a wonderful Buddha belly, too. So we call him "feih faht", which literally translates to "Fat Buddha", but sounds like a Chinese man with poor english mispronouncing the word "favorite". And he is our favorite.
So one day it was hot, and we sat down on a bench. Feihfaht appeared. He began telling us to stop believing in Jesus and believe in Buddha, because Buddha is so powerful. He said, "You have to try, or you won't ever know." We asked if he'd ever tried learning about Jesus. He said that of course he hadn't, because Buddha is better. Then Elder Woo, with great power and authority, pointed out the hypocrisy in his claim that if we don't try buddhism we'll never know, and then challenged him to pray for us to Buddha and then we'd pray for him to Heavenly Father and compare the level of our feelings. Feihfaht turned to the east and with a grin began to wave his clasped hands up and down for a few seconds and then looked at us expectingly. Unphased, Elder Woo offered a prayer in his behalf, the welfare of his family, his success at work and at home, and ability to recognize truth and find greater peace and happiness, and closed in the name of Jesus Christ. Outspoken Feihfaht stood and said nothing, and we blessed him and walked away. He said nothing but only waved to us for the next week, and now when he talks to us and tries to say something about Buddha, we point to the bench where we prayed and ask him if he remembers his good feeling, and just chuckles, stutters, and walks away.
I stand with Elder Neal A. Maxwell who once bore his testimony of the Savior, saying that we do not believe in some Socrates who sauntered around Samaria. We do not believe in some Galilean Gandhi. We don't believe in a Bethlahemic Buddha. We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose almighty Word is spreading among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. That is my testimony, and I am a witness of Christ's mercy and love for the people of Hong Kong.