Mission Letters home from Elder Shuan Chong for Year 1


Note : Content of this post are sourced from all emails sent from him without any editing except for photos which were modified to rotate them upright or some captions added when they were not provided based on my knowledge and guess work. Captions may be changed with new information received at a latter time from Elder Chong.

(Click here to jump to the bottom or end of this blog post.)

His pre-mission experience such as his mission call, prepatory activities and send off can be read here.


7 Jul 2016

Dear family,

I'm given a little bit of time to just let you know I'm safe. Just a little something to share:

It's a blessing that my flights were completely smooth; no delays, not lost luggage etc. Only interesting thing that happened is across the isle on my left, 2 young ladies kept having beer. It came to a point where the air stewardess had to refuse to give them any more. By that time they were drunk and where whining and complaining, even demanding to see the manager (who also refused them). The lady sitting next to me was annoyed at them and literally told them to shut up, and they got into a little argument with vulgarities and all haha. I guess this was a taste of what the people here are gonna be like-- love to drink, very outspoken.

Will let you all know more soon!

Love,
Elder Chong

13 Jul 2016 
MTC Week 1

Dear All,

I can't believe I've been gone a week already! It's been such an amazing experience so far! I've been blessed to have a safe journey here at the Missionary Training Centre (MTC). There were absolutely no problems at all. Other missionaries had delays in their flights, lost luggages for up to a week, 43 hours of travel etc. The only thing I had were 2 drunk ladies near where I sat in the plane which was pretty interesting.

Here at the MTC we're learning to fulfill our purpose as missionaries. The schedule is always packed. There is always something specific to do every hour. It reminds me of when I was a recruit in the army. It was 3 weeks of confinement back then, and it's 3 weeks of training here as well. However, we always sleep at 10.30pm and wake up at 6.30am. 8 hours of rest is such a luxury!!! :)

This intake of missionaries is one of the largest with 87 of us, although there will be one even bigger with 116 after this batch. Good luck to them with sharing the showers! All of us are divided into districts of between 6 to 10 missionaries (like a section in the army). Each of us has an assigned companion and we work together (much like buddies in the army). In each district there's an assigned district leader (like a section leader). Anyway, the districts are named after prophets and I'm in the Abinadi district. My companion is Elder Hawkins from Utah. We are very different but have learned to work together. To give an idea of how different we are, our age gap is 6 years. I'm the eldest and he's the youngest in the district. It's almost like being companions with my youngest brother!

My MTC is President Preston who was Korkor's Mission President back when he was serving in the England Manchester Mission. Pres. Preston is soooo funny!

I've been learning so much just in the past week. It's impossible to share everything I've learned. The main thing I'm learning to do is to teach by the Spirit. The Spirit is the true teacher that testifies if what we're teaching is true. I've had some amazing experiences learning and preparing to teach.

I just want to share a little about my district. There's 10 of us with 6 Sisters (girls) and 4 Elders (guys). We are from all over the world, have had very different lives, stories and problems, but we share the same testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We learn so much from each other and it strengthens me as they share their testimonies. Just as I've shared on the Sunday before I left. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ unites people unlike anything else I've ever seen. Here in the MTC is living proof!

Thank you for all your emails. I can't emphasize how nice it is to find out how you all are doing. I don't have a lot of time on the computer but I'll try my best to reply to them. Even if I can't, please know that I have read them and really really appreciate them! I'm out of time and have to go now. Take care!!!

Much love,

Elder Chong


At Doha airport

These pics are of him outside the MTC building


These pics are taken outside the Preston Temple

Taken most likely with his companion Elder Hawkins from Utah.


This is President Preston of the MTC recognized from the emailed photos of Elder Han Chong when he served in the England Manchester Mission (2012-14) when President Preston was then his Mission President as seen in Han's mission journal post.

Photos of before and after the missionary hair cuts...

... with humor from the MTC president himself!

The barber!


20 Jul 2016
MTC Week 2


Dear all,

The highlight this week would be the tour of site related to Church history. It was so nice to get out of the classroom! The weather here is quite peculiar. It feels like it rains as much as Singapore but the rain is light and extended over looooong hours compared to the short and heavy rain in Singapore. As such, it is very green here just like Singapore, humid too BUT cooler as well (as long as it's cloudy). So in short, it's like being in a Singapore with a lower temperature.

Anyway, the weather was perfect on the day of our tour because it didn't rain. I don't want to bore everyone with too much history but I'll just mention some places that I really enjoyed.


We visited the River Ribble, where the first baptism in the UK took place. The area around it felt very much like the Shire from Lord of the Rings. The river itself looked like the one Arwen crossed when saving Frodo from the wraith Kings. Here's what it looks like: 



Another highlight is the home at Wadham Road where President Hinckley got discouraged and his father sent him a letter telling him to "forget yourself and go to work". Wise words indeed. I don't think the church owns the building so I'm thinking the people staying there now must be quite puzzled as to why a busload of missionaries keep coming to take pictures outside hahaha


Our final stop was at Downham Village, I kind of forgot its significance exactly but I think it's something to do with the early missionaries teaching there. There were miraculous stories but I can't remember them clearly. Go google it! As of now, all the property in the village is owned by someone and can only be rented. He must be really rich!

Just a quick update on things at the MTC, it's been a long but fast week as we've been busy studying, practicing teaching and role playing a lot. I only have a week left before I move out to the mission field in London. I have already enjoyed being able to play the piano for meetings. Last week, we had a devotional where an Area Seventy Elder Philips visited. I was assigned as the pianist for the meeting and had to play prelude. Elder Philips was caught in traffic which caused him to be late... I think I played the prelude music for about 25 minutes. It's the longest I've ever played but it was a real treat!

Last Saturday was one of our teacher's birthday and she spent the whole day with us! Our district thought it would be quite sad to spend the whole day of your birthday in a classroom so we decided to decorate the board, write some cards and prepare some gifts using food that we brought from home. Here's a photo of our district:


Back Row from L to R: Elder Sharp (USA), Elder Camara (Alicante, Spain), Elder Hawkins (USA), Me
Front Row from L to R: Sister Tema (Australia), Sister Topp (UK), Sister Elgueta (Norway), Sister Hughes, Sister De Souza (Sweden), Sister Maughan (UK), Sister Lamb(USA). It's not the best photo but it's all I have. What you see at the bottom is not a table, but scriptures. We stacked at least 6 sets of scriptures on a table and used the self timer on the camera.

Our district is like family, we have many different personal experiences, problems, flaws etc. Imperfect people in short. But together we strengthen each other and help each other overcome the challenges we face as a district. Usually it's the really tough people to teach that discourage us, but next to that is how sleepy we sometimes feel during class, especially after lunch in the afternoon.

Oh I want to say how good the food is over here at the MTC. The chef cooks a wide variety of cuisines such English roasts, fish and chips, American burgers, Spanish Paella, Mexican tortillas, Australian meat pies, Spaghetti etc. They say you eat like kings in the MTC and then like paupers out in the field. As much as I'm enjoying the food here I still refrain from indulging too much. I seem to be very weight conscious, perhaps because I'm on my last belt loop heheh.

Almost every morning we do get to exercise though, I try to run and do push up and sit ups, basically making sure I can still pass IPPT haha. I did try soccer once and that would probably be the last I never had talent with sports involving balls which makes it hard to enjoy, plus the field here is terribly muddy which makes cleaning up really a hassle.

Well, my time is up! (I only have 1 hour to email each week) Stay safe everyone! Remember to look where you're going when chasing pokemon! And be careful where you wonder off to, you might just end up in a Latter-day Saint chapel! :P

Here are additional photos:











26 Jul 2016
MTC Week 3

Hi Everyone!

It has been another great week at the MTC, and sadly it will be my last because I'll be leaving for the mission field tomorrow! Our P-day has been brought forward one day earlier to Tuesday, but in the mission field the P-day in on Monday. So don't be too shocked when you see that my emails are out on a different day. I'm following the rules!

One of the highlights this past week is going out proselyting for the very first time at Piccadilly, Manchester. It was really shocking to see with my own eyes how Pokemon Go has changed the world! Just about everyone I saw who was using a phone, was playing the game. At random times, I would suddenly see flocks of people gather at certain areas. I did manage to approach some people and share the message of the restoration of the gospel. It's really different when you see people not just as people, but as children of our Heavenly Father. Having that perspective gives me greater courage to approach them and not be so afraid of rejection. When I do get rejected, I just need to remember that I am simply a messenger, and that I am bearing a message of hope and peace, not bad news! (reference to ancient times where king killed messengers who brought unwanted news)

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but every Sunday here in the MTC really uplifting. For sacrament meeting, a topic will be given the week before, and all will have to prepare a 3 to 4 minute talk. We will only know who is speaking when we begin the meeting. It seems that I was not selected to speak the whole 3 weeks here! But, the concluding speaker President Miller (2nd Counselor in the MTC) said that the best talks we prepare are usually those not given at all. I've kept all my talks and hopefully will get to share them one day.

We ended our Sunday with a testimony meeting which lasted 1.75 hours. Sounds long but it really felt quite short because people kept going up to share their testimony and even so not everyone had a chance to speak. Inadvertently, some spoke about their past before coming to serve a mission. This much I can say, is that literally everyone has problems and challenges in their lives. Coming out here to serve 18 or 24 months is a great sacrifice, but it is completely worth it because it is the Lord's work. I felt my testimony was strengthened as I listened to the testimony of others! We ended the meeting singing hymn 152 "God Be With You Till We Meet Again". There will be many here that I will probably never see again in this life, but I know I'll get to see them again!

Monday was the last day of lessons which felt quite weird because we had a such a proper close on Sunday. Nonetheless we are never done with learning. Our teacher Brother Turner gave a wonderful final lesson helping us to see how we can apply the things we have learned out in the mission field and even in our own lives after serving a mission.

I still feel inadequate to go out and teach but at the same time I feel ready! I know that I'll learn so much more out there! If there's anything I'll miss about the MTC, it will be the people and food (don't judge!). Honestly the food is really great here and I'll never have the time to make such good food while in the mission field!


Here are some photos from the week. There are none from proselyting because we do not want to look like tourists when working.

 The class I've been in every single day for 3 weeks

A complete picture of my district. 1 has already left for Sweden, another will be flying off to Norway while the remaining 8 of us will take a bus to London tomorrow.


My other MTC teacher Brother Turner. An incredible teacher who has taught me so much!

Have a great week ahead everyone! I can't wait to share my experience being a greenie (brand new missionary)!

Love,
Elder Chong

Last picture with Sister Hughes:


 Sister De Souza going to Sweden then Temple Square:


Sister Elgueta going to Norway then Hawaii. She gave me the adorable little panda toy. So nice of her!:

From time to time, people whom Korkor knew came to visit me!


Gonna miss this district!



1 Aug 2016
Transfer 1 Week 1

Hello everyone!

So last Wednesday morning, the remaining 8 of us from the district were put on a coach to our mission home at South Kensington, London. We had sooo much space! We left at 6.40am and it was raining (how fitting!) As we exited the MTC doors, we each gave a hug to President & Sister Preston. When I stepped through those doors, I suddenly thought of how this felt like us leaving the premortal world. We have learned a lot at the MTC, but there's a limit to how much we can learn in the classroom, and so it's time for us to say goodbye to our parents there and enter the mission field to experience what it's like being a real missionary. Similarly we could only learn so much in the premortal life and could only progress if we left our heavenly parents and experienced mortality on earth.

The journey to London took about 5 hours and we arrived at 12pm. London is so busy and beautiful! The church building at Exhibition road is very unique. Not only is the Mission Home there, but it's also a stake center and and visitors center! We were received by our Mission President, President Stevens and his wife sister Stevens. we had lunch and training in the afternoon, during which, President Stevens interviewed us one by one. He already selected the trainers but had yet to decide who exactly will train us and which area we would go. Talk about the need for inspiration almost immediately! Anyway, my trainer is Elder Coon from Utah, and we'll be serving at the Cambridge area. After the training the 8 of us from the MTC went our separate ways. Much like the Plan of Salvation, we all are in different families. Each person's experience will be unique. There will be much happiness and much sorrow but we will all learn and grow.


I've met 2 Malaysians in the meeting which was pretty cool! One is sister Teng from Ipoh and the other is Elder Tamil from PJ! Here are some photos:

Elder Tamil and I

After the training. This includes all the trainers and new missionaries, mission president and wife, and assistants to the mission president.

The Cambridge Area is HUGE! It feels like it's bigger than Singapore! The chapel is roughly in the center of the Area and a family living at the border of the boundary has to travel 50mins by car just to go to church! With the Area being so big, we are assigned a car! We also have bikes which we use when it's more convenient such as when the place we're going to has limited parking or when the car is sent for servicing. I already needed to use the bikes because these situations already came about! Sad fact of life is that when something you take for granted is taken away, then only will you appreciate what you had.

On my first day in the Area, we had a district meeting. I got to meet the other missionaries from the district. We have 2 sisters, 4 elders and a senior couple:

My district. Basically everyone is from the USA except for me!

Oh, all missionaries in my mission are equipped with an iPad. It's really handy for everything! We can have the whole gospel library and find materials easily, as well as use the map. I really can't do without the map! There's not many turns on the road here and the street signs are so discreet. Sharing photos amongst each other is also so easy with airdrop. The only difficult thing I find is having to type emails out haha. Also, I can't send photos from my camera :(

There is much work to do here in Cambridge and time seems to be passing so fast. I feel like there's always not enough time. I've seen some small miracles happen already and hope to be able to see the Lord's work continue to move forward. I've only been here about 5 days and have already seen things in my Patriarchal blessing come to pass. When I received my mission call I really had no idea how it matched what was mentioned in the blessing, but being here I can slowly see for myself and it gives me the assurance that I'm on the right track. For those who have yours, read it regularly! For those who don't, prepare yourself to get receive it!

I have to go now. I'll try to take more photos for next week!

Love,
Elder Chong

P.S. My first cooked meal wasn't Chinese. I just used whatever there was and cooked tikka masala using bottled sauce and ate it with tortilla. I consider it fusion haha



8 Aug 2016
Transfer 1 Week 2

Dear all,

The past week has been amazing. I wanted to do better in finding
people. One of my greatest fear is rejection and that affects how
often I approach people to share the gospel. So last Tuesday I made up
my mind to be bold and do my best and convinced myself that I could do
it. Then it rained... I almost wanted to do something else like drive
and find less active members. However, my trainer suggested that we
pray to know if we should go. We prayed, and went out with our
umbrellas.

We set out to go to a park near the city center which was about 2km
away. When we were on the way there, I saw a man and two children
walking towards us. I stopped them and found out they were heading for
the city center. They had gotten off at a bus station and were walking
the wrong way for a long distance without realizing it until they met
us. We offered to walk them there since it was on the way. Along the
way, I found out that they were from Turkey and were visiting for a
day. They were Muslim but were excited to hear about the Plan of
Salvation and families. I found that many things they believe in are
similar to what we teach. As I was teaching, I began to think that I
probably was meant to be out here to talk to them as well as help
them. I did what I could never left them with a pass-along card as we
parted ways. I may never get to teach them more, but I did what I
could.

It's too long for me to share everything that I did, but in short I
had many great conversations and opportunities to help people on the
way and back from the park. Not everyone was interested of course but
basically at the end, I gave out all the cards I had, I got 2 phone
numbers of people interested to hear more, I gave out my very first
Book of Mormon on the street (she was just visiting from South
Africa), and bumped into a less active member who was struggling with
things and has not been coming to church.

Each time I found people, I became more and more sure I needed to be
out there. At the end of this journey of finding, I was convinced that
I was indeed supposed to go out. I learned that when it comes to
acting in faith, we don't normally fully understand if it's the right
thing to do. However as we keep doing what we believe is right, it
will be made known to us if it is or if it is not as long as we are
doing it with that desire to know. (See Alma 32:27)

The end of the week was the best! On Friday we had zone meeting at
Ipswich. It was really long because there was additional training on
using technology in proselyting. One of the things that stood out to
me was something said by Elder Bednar about how it is no coincidence
that all the wonderful technology and devices are brought forth in
this last dispensation. They are inspired by God and it is intended to
hasten His work. Here's a picture of our zone :

There are 13 companionships. Pretty huge zone. They all work hard and we are seeing miracles in our zone. Makes me want to work harder to contribute as much as I can.

Also, I got to meet Elder Sharp who was my district leader in the MTC!

After the meeting, I went for exchanges with the zone leaders at Colechester. They are such good missionaries who lead by example. I don't think I could even be like them at that age. (They are below 20) Here's a picture of us:


The zone leaders are Elder Burgess from England and Elder Jensen from California. Elder Burgess on the far left was also taught by the same teacher as me in the MTC! No wonder he's such a great missionary!

We stayed for a night and continued working with them till afternoon. We then left and returned back to Cambridge for something amazing:


Yup! It's a baptism! It's for the 2 youngest children. 

There's an amazing story behind this baptism. The family moved to Cambridge from another country earlier this year. The dad is a less active member for many years and about a month and a half ago, the mom suddenly decided she wanted to go to church. The dad was alright with that and asked her which church she wanted to go to, to which she replied "why don't we go to your church!" And so they did and began taking discussions as a family. I got to teach the last lesson before the baptism and could see from their faces just how converted they were. The dad truly desired that his children live the gospel and expressed that to them. They have to travel 50 minutes by car at longest just to come to church. That's how much faith they have!

The goal now is for the mom to be baptized and thereafter aim to be sealed in the temple. She is already keeping all the commitments needed but just needs to settle one last thing with the dad. There is much strength and support when a whole family sets a goal together, and this is what I see in this family. From the beginning they already set their goal on being sealed in the temple. Because of that goal, they have been doing all that they can to reach that goal. 

All organizations need goals. Goals give people something to work towards to as well as a reason to work together. Often we forget that a family is also an organization. Without goals, we get distracted by our own things and slowly drift away from each other. As individuals we are more vulnerable and Satan takes advantage of that. 

Anyway, I didn't do the baptism but the children did ask that I do the confirmation for them on Sunday. It was a great honor as well as a little scary because I've never done it before. Nonetheless it went well. I really wonder how Patriarchs feel when giving blessings.

Sorry to bore you all with so much long winded stuff. I'll just share some random fun stuff:


I gave Elder Coon a haircut! (First time I cut hair that is not black) he was satisfied with it so I'm contented. I'll attempt to teach him how to cut mine. If it doesn't go well, you won't see any photos of me for a while heheh.
Also, that's one of the meals I cook when I feel more motivated. It surprises me just how much I can do in an hour on while on a mission :


Elder Walker is TALL. His current companion is Elder Stoor (handsome blond Elder on the left). I laughed to myself when I first saw their height difference... Only to be told later on that I'll be on exchanges with Elder Walker this coming Thursday, and it's not a driving area! Karma much?



The cloud patterns vary so much every day. This is one of my favorites. 

Have a great week everyone! Thank you for your emails!

Love,
Elder Chong

Sent from my iPad


15 Aug 2016
Transfer 1 Week 3

Dear all,

I've just realised that whenever I send emails from my iPad, all the text in between each picture get's put into noname.txt so for last week's email, about have of what I wrote was put into those attachments. I have the computer this week so I can do the normal formatting.

Writing these weekly emails are like writing in a journal. I reflect on each week a lot more than before serving a mission. It helps me to think about what I have done and see if I have grown in any way. I certainly try harder to recognise the blessings from God each week as I do so.

Last Monday, a family that just moved into the ward invited us over for dinner. It was a most hearty meal. The main dish looked and tasted almost exactly like the beef stroganoff mom used to cook. So that was really really nice. Anyway, what's interesting is that the dad is from Denmark and the Mom is from Russia. They both served in the England London Mission and shared some really interesting stories of how things used to be in the mission. The way I saw them teach their son reminded me a lot of mom and dad. The mom constantly taught in righteousness, and the dad is the goofy one haha. Here's a picture!
They had a friend visiting from Norwich too! Such a lovely family!

On Wednesday, I visited someone who has not been to church for 50 years. His knowledge on the very basic things are limited. I guess not being engaged in anything for 50 years would lead one to forget a lot. Nonetheless he remembers the word of wisdom and knows that he is not keeping it haha. That was actually the reason he stopped going-- he loved his coffee, tea and alcohol. Right now he is reading the Book of Mormon and has been pretty diligent. It surprises me that he says he has never read it before. However, what surprises me even more is that there is apparently a change in him as a person, I don't know what the change is because it's the first time I met him. It's the neighbours who tell us about him. The neighbours don't take too kindly to Mormons but they do recognise that ever since he has been meeting with missionaries, it has helped him a lot and they encouraged us to keep seeing him.

I may not know how he used to be like, but I know that the change is occurring because he has been reading his scriptures. It is very obvious to me that the people who progress quickly are those who truly study, ponder and pray about what they have read in the Book of Mormon. While sharing a spiritual thought recently, I learned just how important studying the scriptures is if we want to endure to the end. It is found in 2 Nephi 31:20. Reading our scriptures is one of those things that is so simple but often overlooked. As we diligently study the scriptures, it will help us to keep the rest of the commandments. (See Moroni 6:4)

On Thursday I was with Elder Walker at Chelmsford. Remember the tall elder I pointed out last time? His area is a walking area. The only appointment we had was dinner at a member's place... which got cancelled! So yup, I was walking all day with Elder Walker (no pun intended) finding people. It's the most walking I have done so far on a mission. While I was cooking dinner, we were suddenly told to go to the chapel to meet an investigator who was going to have his baptismal interview. We had to rush there. Normally it takes 30mins to walk there. We did it in 20mins or less. Elder Walker was brisk walking while I was jogging to keep up with him! Something interesting is that I felt like cooking extra fried rice for dinner and also decided to pack it to bring to the chapel. It turned out that when we arrived at the chapel, Elder Walker's companion and my companion also arrived from their training at London. They did not have dinner and there I had 2 boxes of fried rice!

Saturday was special because it was Elder Jackman's birthday. Some of the ward members had planned a surprise for him and tricked him into going to a member's home to "help move stuff". Here's a picture:

Although I could only spend 1 hour there using my dinner hour, I had a really great time getting to know the members of the ward better. It was probably also a relief after a day of finding people to teach. I thought to myself that I must be a true grown up now since one of the things I enjoy most is talking to people over food.

To end off, I have a cool miracle to share that is not mine, but worth sharing. The sister missionaries in my ward have been praying hard to find a family to teach. They have been working really hard this transfer and have found many people to teach but none of them are a family. On Sunday, a family of 4 showed up at church! They live nearby the chapel and decided on their own to walk in and stayed throughout! The power of prayer is real!

I have not been diligent in taking photos this week. Taking photos takes effort. Having photos of yourself taken takes even more effort! But here are some anyway...

Can you see it? That's in my bucket list at the back of my mind.

I feel accomplished when I can do something. I feel even more accomplished when I can teach someone else to do the same thing I can do. It's Elder Coon's first time cutting someone's hair and I dare say he did a good job.

When there's a gas stove, non-stick wok pan and rice cooker all in one flat. It tells a Chinese missionary to cook fried rice while he still can!

I did eat it with some shredded lettuce as well in case you're wondering if I'm not eating healthily.

Have a great week ahead everyone! Please read your scriptures! For those who find that your "a chapter a day" routine is getting boring and less meaningful, try studying using Preach My Gospel Chapter 4. It has helped me realise just how packed with doctrine the Book of Mormon is.

Love,
Elder Chong (:


22 Aug 2016
Transfer 1 Week 4

Dear all,

It has been a great week! I'll start off with what I did for P-day on Monday. The Elders from Bury St. Edmunds came down to join us since we were having exchanges on Tuesday. We went bowling! I don't have a picture of the score because it disappeared way too quickly, but it is sufficient to say I achieved 4th place ;) I did however achieve my baseline goal of scoring at least 100.


We also played pool in pairs. I'd say I was pretty lucky this time, getting two balls in one strike a few times which did lead to my team winning 2/4 times. The other 2 times we lost was when my teammate hit the black ball in. Twice. I guess you could say our luck balanced each other out.

For exchanges on Tuesday I went down to Haverhill. It's a 30min drive from Cambridge. It is just one of the many little towns spread around Cambridge. Many people stay in these little towns and work in Cambridge. What makes it difficult here is that we try to maximise the use of time by planning all appointments there on a particular day. But, all the people there may not (definitely will not) be free on the same day. Appointments do fall through, but we always seem to find potential people to teach along the way. Here's a picture of what you'd normally find between Cambridge and all the surrounding towns:


Wednesday was fun. We had a '3 week meeting' where after training for 3 weeks, the new missionaries gather again for a meeting and some training with the Mission President, his wife and his assistants. It was like a reunion with my MTC district which was really great. I feel like they have grown so much in such a short time. The meeting was back at the Hyde Park Chapel in London, so I had to take the train down. Here are some pictures:


I love the sight of the bales of hay. They look like giant marshmallows from afar.


This is the entrance of the Hyde Park Chapel at Exhibition Road. There's a really interesting history of how it was obtained, but it is too long for me to share.

This is the whole group at the same place we started 3 weeks ago.

This is the mandatory photo of our MTC district.

This is evidence of why you shouldn't have too many missionaries together often.


I don't fancy cars too much but oh well. I didn't know the engine for a Ferrari is at the back. I was shocked when the owner suddenly came and took out a bag from the front.

The ward had a summer party on Saturday. I was really looking forward
to it from a missionary's perspective. It was planned sort of like a
carnival where activities are set up and it's free for all rather her
than a fixed schedule. I tried to talk to as many people as possible
and gave chapel tours. Honestly only the children played the games.
The adults were either running the games or eating food. It was fun to
watch them whack the piñata. At first it was just children blindfolded
and they weren't getting much candy, so they removed the blindfolds
and it was better:

Eventually...



Yup, the adults took over haha. The kids were happy anyway because they were getting more candy. Little miracle for this activity was that the weather forecast was rain. I prayed that it would not rain during the activity... and it didn't! However, it was so windy no one really wanted to be outside. Also, it rained when the party was over, which was the time for me to go finding!

For the first time ever, I taught primary on Sunday! The actual teacher is on holiday so various members are taking turns to teach this class of 9 to 10 year olds. Somehow we were asked to teach them too. Teaching can be real difficult when one child keeps moving to squat in a corner, while another keeps walking up to you to talk about other things, and in the background someone keeps singing the Super Mario theme song. Perhaps this picture tells it all:

It was fun teaching them. I like how the teacher's manual stated very simply what principle needs to be taught. It was about Samuel the Lamanite who just like all other prophets, prophesied about Jesus Christ. I know the things prophesied about the birth and death of Jesus Christ have really happened. There are many other prophesies found in the scriptures about our time -- the last dispensation! What we need to do is all found in the scriptures, right in front of us! The people in the past had their test of faith of the birth of Jesus Christ. We know that he did come to earth and fulfilled the Atonement. He gave up His life for us, and he was resurrected. Because He was resurrected, so too shall we one day. Our test of faith now is to prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ. I know that He lives and will return in His glory.

I forgot to mention that after the 3 week meeting, we were to set up facebook accounts for use as missionaries. Before setting it up however, we had to deactivate our previous accounts. So don't be shocked if you can't find my old facebook account. I'll be back in 2 years!

I'll put all the contact details in my emails in future. In the mean time... have a great week ahead!

Love,
Elder Chong

P.S. It's nearing the end of the month and I'm trying to be careful with the mileage on our car by cycling more!  


29 Aug 2016
Transfer 1 Week 5


Dear all,

It has been a wonderful week. I've spent too much time replying
replying personal emails, so I apologise that this week's will be
short.

This week the zone leaders joined us for district meeting and guess
what? I was assigned to give my first training. Coincidence? I think
not. It was fun though, I gave a training on what it means to be a
successful missionary. That week we didn't hit our goals in terms of
key indicators so it was all the more meaningful. Honestly the one
preparing a lesson/training/talk is the one that learns the most. I
did a fun activity where we all wrote down what we think a successful
missionary is without knowing who wrote what. I'll share that in the
pictures.

Sometimes knowing something and doing it is very different. We know
that successful missionaries are those that are obedient and are
constantly diligent in doing all that they can. But being like that
can be a challenge because of the difficulties faced when doing
missionary work. To me, it's just like keeping the commandments. They
are simple to understand, but keeping them can be a real challenge
when opposition kicks in. I think it all boils down to each person's
desire and faith. The cool thing though, is that if we do keep the
commandments, God blesses us. There's no doubt about it. I've
experienced in the past week how striving to be be more obedient and
diligent brings forth more blessings. Some of these blessings came in
ways I never expected. Hopefully I can keep it up, when many blessings
come, that's when we tend to become more complacent... And fail to do
that which we need to, then that puts a stop to the blessings. Both
the Bible and Book of Mormon show just how real the pride cycle is. My
hope is that we learn from them and avoid falling into the same cycle.

Have a great week everyone!

Love,
Elder Chong

P.S. Sorry for the lack of photos, I carelessly left my iPad at
someone's home and did not have it for a few days... I'll be more
careful!

The pictures in order are:
(1) picture after district meeting with zone leaders
(2) result of my activity during training
(3) dinner and correlation meeting with the ward mission leader.
Chinese food! :)
(4) genuine fried cracker! :D

Sent from my iPad







6 Sep 2016
Transfer 1 Week 6

Well, it looks like I've completed my first transfer already. The pastweek is the 6th and last week of the transfer. It has been the busiest of all the weeks in terms of the number of appointments we have. As I meet with the many different people, I learn quite a bit about their lives, their concerns and the problems that they have. I can see how the gospel will truly help them, and how much they need it. The challenge is getting them to realise that.

I've had many pleasant surprises the past week. First is on P-day when the Elders from Bury came down for exchanges again. This time, they brought a wok from their flat which no one uses! Oh man, the fried rice is starting to taste like the restaurants because it now has that nice smokey taste from the wok. Elder Coon keeps making extra rice in the rice cooker so we've been having it quite often. I've also been timing myself and have been able to cook within 30mins. It's so much faster than the pan!

Speaking of food, I regret to say that I have given in to temptation...


I was hoping I could hold out at least a year, but what can I do when I'm outnumbered 3 to 1?

The McDonalds here is quite different from Singapore. Extra value meals are at a fixed price for all burgers (other than the special seasonal burgers) which made me want to go for the Big Mac or quarter pounder instead of my favourite fillet-o-fish. Another thing I find that's different is...

It's just not as fast as Singapore. The queue went all the way to the entrance!

To save mileage on our car, we've started taking the train to the appointments that are way far.

Not all of the stations let you cross over the track directly. It's pretty dangerous!

On Friday, we had zone meeting again.

It was great to see all the missionaries in the zone again, but what really made my day was...

A package! :D Zone meetings are the times when we will get letters and packages because the zone leaders will have a meeting at the mission office before zone meeting and will collect all the mail for us. So, In addition to the time taken for the mail to reach the mission office, it could take up to an additional month for the mail to reach me. Anyway, here's what I got:

A month's supply of milo!!! (assuming I have one a day heheh) While taking this photo, I had yet to go through the whole box to find out there's something else below all that milo. I'm saving it for my birthday :)

Thank you so much to the family that sent it! I now know just how incredible it feels to receive a package. I've calculated how much each mug of milo costs. I'll surely cherish each sip.

On Saturday morning, we went to help clean the garden of an old member who lives alone with her dog:

I don't have any photos of us doing the actual work. It's just awkward to go around taking pictures while everyone else is hard at work. I had really wanted to take a picture of what I was doing but that's even harder. I'll still describe it though...

At one glance across, the garden looked so good. It looked better than many of the other gardens I've seen here. I was tasked to remove the weeds. In particular, the bamboo. I didn't know that the bamboo was causing a problem until my ward mission leader showed me. The bamboo shoots were actually popping out everywhere. A few were a little more obvious but many were hidden among the thick bushes of the plants we wanted. As I trimmed the bushes I realised there was so much bamboo. At first I wondered why the bamboo was everywhere. As I began digging and plucking out the roots. I realised that there was a whole network of bamboo roots under the soil. The roots were actually creeping right under the concrete slabs that acted as the footpath in the garden. We had to lever out the concrete slabs using the spade and then dig out the roots. Because it was all connected, it led from one concrete slab to another. It was hard work. I had no idea it would be this much work when I first saw the seemingly good looking garden.

I thought of these weeds as problems in our lives. They can start small from one end of the garden, but can grow bigger and bigger. Eventually spreading throughout the garden and interfering with our lives. Despite becoming bigger, they can still remain rather hidden... but eventually some will notice the problem. Others can notice even before we do ourselves. When they let us know, it takes a lot of humility to acknowledge that there truly is a problem. We might even take it negatively and think "that person is trying to pick on me!". It can be tempting to just let it be since it's all hidden under the concrete slabs and nice looking bushes. However, the longer it is left alone, the worse it becomes. It is a lot of work to deal with the problem that has grown so big, but it is worth it! We're not alone too! I can't imagine doing all that work alone. Having others to help, or just talk to made it so much easier. Likewise, facing personal problems can be much easier with the help of others. We all felt so good after spending 2 hours gardening together. The member was also so pleased!

Ideally it would be great to get rid of the weeds when it just begins sprouting. But who has time to keep weeding? It's probably impossible to have a garden without a single weed. Just like the garden and the weeds, we aren't perfect. We have many responsibilities and things to do. The "weeding" can be neglected when we are so busy. But if we humble ourselves and turn to the Lord, it is promised in D&C 1:

24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.

25 And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;

26 And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed;

27 And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent;

28 And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time.

I know that it is only because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can repent, and it is such a great blessing to be able to be clean again! If we truly desire to change, we will receive help from above.

I love you all!
Elder Chong


P.S At the end of that Saturday, we had a really delicious dinner. It was roast chicken! Something I don't have time to make! It was in BBQ, sweet sauce and chilli sauce. Desert was cream puffs in chocolate mousse. Luckily I don't get see too often. There are many missionaries who look completely different from when they first started!



12 Sep 2016
Transfer 2 Week 1

Hello everyone!

While finding this week, I met a number of people who asked questions that kept going round and round. They are extremely logical people who want answers and evidence. I didn't feel so comfortable talking to these people because I could actually relate to the very deep questions about God that they had, and realise that I don't actually know all the answers. These people didn't want to meet again nor try reading scriptures or praying. They wanted answers and explanations immediately. I soon realised that whatever I did would never satisfy them. One of the questions got me thinking and it's something along the lines of "why can't God do this?"

I wouldn't say I started doubting my faith, but in my mind I kept thinking "yeah, why can't God do that?". As I was reading the scriptures on Sunday morning, I came across this verse from the Book
of Mormon which said. 1 Nephi 7:12 "Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him."

I felt like I was getting rebuked. But that's not all! During sacrament meeting, all the talks were about faith! Last but not least, I was sitting right next to an old lady, whose life's challenges could lead one to doubt that God exists. Yet, she faithfully comes to church each week despite health challenges.

These 3 things were enough for me to know that I received an answer to the rather prideful question I had.

Anyway, I don't know if I mentioned it last week, but that I'm still staying in Cambridge. 

On P-day before the transfers, the Jackmans invited us over for their amazing waffles! 

It was my first time trying buttermilk syrup! Love it!

So Elder Coon got transferred and my follow up trainer is Elder Dunning from California. So that's 3 Californians in one district! He's in the middle of the picture. I'll probably have to give him a haircut soon haha.

I attended the birthday party of the old lady I mentioned last Thursday.  It was a barbecue! It started an hour late and by start I mean we start getting the fire going haha. What was cool was that they invited their neighbours too! 
One neighbour studied chemistry in Oxford and is a really successful person. The other neighbour I met is retired, but he owns a massive orchard and was really kind to show us around. He invited us back this week!

We couldn't stay too long so we couldn't try the highlight of the barbecue as it wasn't ready... 

Oh well, we are fishers of men, not fish.

The sun is starting to rise later and set earlier. I really do not look forward to winter!

Have a great week ahead!

Love,
Elder Chong

P.S. I had lunch with a family who know some of my friends in Singapore. I love how small the world is! 



Sent from my iPad

19 Sep 2016
Transfer 2 Week 2

Hello everyone!

I've been travelling so much the past week. First was on Tuesday where there was zone conference. It's like zone meeting except there's 2 zones together. I was glad to be assigned to play the piano once again. There's always 2 hymns that are sung in all missionary meetings here, hymn #41 Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise and hymn #249 Called to Serve. #41 is especially tricky but I've played it so much it has become easier. My favourite part about playing the piano for these meetings is playing the prelude. I've started using songs from the Children's Songbook as I find them more fun to play. It sounded really nice on the grand piano at the chapel! I still haven't got over stage fright though, my right leg on the pedal kept shaking as I was playing the piano. This hasn't happened to me since the piano recitals years ago!

Anyway, the conference focused a lot on using the Book of Mormon. President Stevens used a talk from a recent general conference talk titled "The Book of Mormon--a book from God" by Tad R. Callister. It's the one that used the object lesson where if the Bible is single point on a paper, we can draw many lines through it in different directions, but if we have the Book of Mormon as a second point, we can only draw one straight line through it. This illustration shows why a second witness is so crucial! I shouldn't spend time explaining more, it's all in the talk.

While finding along a street, I came across this shop that sells Chinese groceries and Malaysian specialties. I went in and found that the owner was from Singapore! He and his wife used to live near Tanglin Halt where I stay! They asked us to come back on Thursday, which was 15th of September, which means...




Mooncake and Milo! :D To celebrate the mid-autumn festival! What a treat! I never expected to have mooncake here! The owner has met missionaries before and they are still in contact. He also knows all the church members who buy stuff from his shop!

On Friday, we had to travel again for exchanges with the zone leaders at Colchester. We did service in the morning for one of the  members there. We basically spent the morning putting pebbles on to soil. It sounds simple, but it's not as easy as it sounds...

First was to dig out the soil at the sides to insert the concrete fence to prevent the stones from spilling out. At the same time, we had to remove and move the excess soil somewhere else so that it's the same level as the stones already there. I have no pictures of that because that was what I was mainly doing (on top of weeding)

Next was to lay the membrane and put the bricks to prevent the wind from blowing it away.

 Then comes the pouring of the stones...

and then spreading it out! We finished just in time as it started raining once we were done!

I travelled at least 230 miles from the zone conference and exchange with the zone leaders. During this time, I went through the pamplets that missionaries use in mandarin. My iPad has a dictionary which helps me learn so much faster! I can just write down the words on the screen for the translation and pronunciation. I'm learning so much faster than back home. The reason why I've been trying to imrpove in my mandarin is because...

Someone from China got baptised in the ward I'm serving at! I have been helping to explain things to him in Mandarin. He's really great!

I have actually used thing's I've learned in the pamphlet to help explain things to him, as well as to understand questions he asks. For example, he asked in mandarin whether I would be one of the witnessess for his baptism. The word witness is used in the very first page of the pamplet where it explains how prophets are witnessess of God. If I had not read the pamphlet I would not have understood him!

I als found a 64 year old lady originally from China who wondered why there were so many churches even though they all believed in Jesus Christ. I was surprised I could actually explain it very simply using mandarin and the pamphlet. She wants to come to church this week!

I realise that I'm more motivated to work on my mandarin because I have a purpose. I didn't feel as motivated back home because I couldn't really use it nor practice it for that matter. It just made me think of how important it is to find a purpose in what we do, especially in keeping the commandments of God and fulfilling church callings. Without truly understanding what commandments are and why we have them, they just look like a bunch of restrictions. If we don't understand the purpose of home teaching and visiting teaching, it just becomes a chore. If I don't understand my purpose as a missionary...... well, there are many things I can write about that but I think it is already clear how finding a purpose in what we do very much affects how motivated we are to do things and the attitude we will carry as we go about doing it.

I hope everyone had a great week! As we enter the -ber months at the end of the year, Christmas is just round the corner and President and Sister Stevens have some advice on sending packages. Do take a look at the attachment!

Love,
Elder Chong

64/68 Princes Gate, Exhibition Road
South Kensington
London SW7 2PA
England

Extract of attachment below :

Dear Missionary Families,

We send our love and greetings to you from London. It is a great blessing and

treasured gift in our lives to serve here with your wonderful missionary sons and

daughters. Each is doing a work that has eternal significance and is influencing so

many lives for good as they share the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is already September and we are looking forward to a joyful celebration of this

Christmas season with your missionary. We want to be certain that all our

missionaries receive their Christmas presents from home in time for the holiday.

We are planning to personally deliver all packages to our missionaries at our Zone

Conferences in early December. In order to ensure your packages arrive in time, we

are asking that they arrive in England by December 1, 2016. So please plan

accordingly. We offer some suggestions if you are planning to send a gift.

 Please send all packages to the Mission Office. It is much safer to receive

packages here at the office than to send them directly to your missionary.

 Please label the package “Christmas Gift” so we can easily separate it from

other packages that arrive at the office.

 It would also be helpful if you would send an email to us when you ship a

package so we can be looking for it. Please include the missionary’s name

and date you shipped the package. Our email is 2014904@ldschurch.org.

 We encourage you to be selective in what you choose to send. Packages

that are very large or heavy are difficult for missionaries to carry from the

Zone Conference to their flats where there is limited space to keep such

items.

 Please be wise in choosing what to send. Missionaries do not need much

and some will receive very little.

 Amazon.co.uk and other trustworthy online shopping sites are a wonderful

option for purchasing gifts. Ordering from these websites eliminates

expensive customs/duty fees and forms because you are ordering from a

UK company and sending to a UK address. They carry a very wide

selection of gifts. Shipping will be less expensive and may be free. Please

be sure to shop before 01 November when using these websites to allow

enough time for delivery, which can take several weeks.

 Money on your missionary’s personal debit/credit card is another gift that

missionaries appreciate. There is wonderful shopping here in England that

missionaries love to do.

 Please be aware that if you choose to send packages from home, your

missionary will have to pay all customs/duty fees on packages sent to the

UK. These fees are expensive and are approximately 20% of the declared

value of the package. These fees will need to be paid from the missionary’s

own personal funds. Check with local post offices to find out what fees will

apply and other mailing requirements. Regulations now state that for a

package to qualify as a gift, it must be

o Described as a gift on the customs declaration

o Bought and sent between individuals (not companies)

o Intended for personal use

Goods sent as a gift that have a value in excess of 36 Pounds (check for

current exchange rates) are liable for VAT (Value Added Tax) and a

handling fee by the delivering company.

Please send all packages for your missionary to the mission office address and make

sure to put his/her name on the package, in care of President Stevens, not the LDS

Church. Send to:

Elder/Sister (full name please)

Care of President Mark W. Stevens

64/68 Princes Gate, Exhibition Road

South Kensington

London SW7 2PA

England

Thank you so much for the support you give your missionary. Your love and

encouragement makes a significant difference in their life. We are honoured to

serve with these remarkable young men and women. They inspire us every day.

We pray the Lord’s blessings to be with you and your family at this sacred time of

year as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

Love,

President and Sister Stevens

England London Mission

Office phone: +44 2078381950


19 Sep 2016
Transfer 2 Week 3

Hello Everyone!

Wow I'm already half way through this transfer. I constantly think about how much more I can do here and how much time I think I have left here. The days go by so quickly!

Last week on P-day, we decided to go check out a place called Castle Mound. It used to be part of a castle in the 1300s but now it's basically the highest pile of dirt in Cambridge haha. It does have a pretty nice view of Cambridge though...


That's the footpath I'm standing on.

We weren't too sure what kind of climb it would be. I'm glad we didn't change to hiking clothes haha. Would have felt so silly when "climbing" the hill.

It seemed to be the highest hill in Cambridge!

 I've been on top of that tower in the background. I think it has the best view of Cambridge City!
When I asked Elder Dunning to take a picture of me... He literally did.

During District Meeting on Wednesday, we watched a series of videos about driving safely produced by the church for missionaries. Some of the are hillarious! The funny thing is that we all felt scared of driving after watching those videos! I'm not driving now, but I do keep a lookout as my companion drives. During long distance drives, I do take some time to enjoy the scenery too:

This was one of those nice sunny days. The weather still fluctuates each day, but the cold days are getting colder! :(

On Saturday, a couple got married and they used the chapel for the reception. We had to open the chapel constantly throughout the week for them to set it up. It looked really nice! I love DIY wedding receptions. Sadly I don't have any photos. I wasn't involved at all other than opening the chapel and cleaning up. Oh man, cleaning up was hard work. There was confetti everywhere! Somehow there were a lot of crushed sugary candy on the floor too, which we had to scrape out as they dried up and were stuck on the carpet. 

Sunday afternoon was pretty cool. We had to find one more new investigator for the week. Elder Dunning and I had faith we could find one but weren't too sure exactly how we would. We had an appointment to see a potential whom we stopped by the street the week before. We thought he could be the one so we decided to walk to his place. He wasn't in. We then decided to drop off a Chinese Book of Mormon at the chapel as the sister missionaries needed one for a lesson later in the evening. On the way there, we stopped someone from the Philippines. Apparently her husband lives in the Phillippines and is a member. She was investigating the church until she moved here on Thursday for work. She had just gone to the chapel to look for someone to continue teaching her, but it was locked as no one was there. How is it a coincidence that we found her!? She was so happy that she wanted to take a picture with us and send it to her husband! This was such a nice way to end off the week! 

I have to go now! Have a great week ahead!

Love,
Elder Chong


4 Oct 2016
Transfer 2 Week 4

Dear All,

Wow what a week it has been! There was zone meeting, general conference and then interviews with the President and Sister Stevens. The interviews were on Monday that's why P-day is on Tuesday this week.

Let's start from last week's P-day. I discovered an ALDI!!!

 It's probably the cheapest place to buy groceries. It had actually opened the week before and there were 250 people actually waiting outside the first day it opened. The day we went wasn't as bad but it was still pretty crowded. It was like shopping in Singapore actually, it was cram and hard to manouver through. I guess I have gotten too used to super wide walkways in ASDA which is basically Walmart.

The week started slow. On Tuesday we had 5 appoinments that were cancelled. Sure it was disappointing, but I simply laughed because it was just ridiculous. Our back up for all of them was finding people, but sadly we didn't find anyone that day.

Wednesday went better as 3 out of 4 appoinments went through. For the last appoinment of the day the person didn't show up. I normally would have been terribly disappointed but after Tuesday I was contented haha.

Then on the week went really interesting. On Thursday we felt like we should go visit someone who stopped meeting with the missionaries earlier this year. We had to take the train and then walk 30 minutes. We finally reached the street only to realise that we didn't note down the house number. We had an apppoinment to get to and had  no time too knock all the doors on the huge street. At the point that we turned back, we received a text on our phone letting us know we just got a referral! It's so rare here it's really a miracle!

Friday was Zone Meeting! Our zone exceeded our goals again for the past month so it was really great! Here's a photo:

Some missionaries will be going home after this transfer. Summing up 2 years into 2 minutes is really hard. I shan't think so far ahead. Oh during zone meeting we suddenly received yet another referral!

During our studies on Saturday morning, we received yet another referral! We set an appoinment to see the person that day and she even came to watch general conference in the evening!

On Sunday we got yet another referral who came to church to watch conference as well!

Yesterday before leaving for interviews, we received a notification on our phone letting us know we have another referral. After the interviews and training, we received another referral again! It's unbelievable! It was actually quite scary to suddenly receive so many referrals the past week. I don't think there's anything special I did. During my interview with President Stevens we discussed how we really don't have much control of how the week goes. What matters is that we are doing are best. We were just so blessed the past week. I hope to be able to do the best I can to help all these precious children of our Heavenly Father.

To focus a bit more about interviews, we had a training as well so we had to set up everything before hand. We are the largest zon in the mission so setting up is quite a lot of work. To make sure it's easier to know where everything goes, I took a picture of it so it would be easier next time:


When everyone arrived it looked like this:

 I love the iPad haha!

To save time on lunch, the quickest way is to go McDonalds of course!

 I didn't get much from McDonalds because during interviews, we had Sister Stevens' amazing brownies with milk! Eating 2 of it already made me so full!

Little joys in life! :)

Oh man I don't time left to talk about general conference. I gained so much this time. There were many talks about the Book of Mormon and missionary work. During the interviews training, we watched President Uchtdorf's talk during the general women's session. Everyone must go watch it! There is a really touching story that he shared about faith and missionary work! 

Maybe I'll just one more thing that stood out to me. It was by Quinton L. Cook during the Saturday Afternoon Session. He spoke about stumbling blocks and one of them is by looking beyond the mark. (Jacob 4:14) Some people stumble because they seek for things they cannot understand. There will be many things that cannot be answered in this life. But the things pertaining to our salvation we do know. If we knew everything, we could not exercise any faith at all!

Sorry that everything I'm sharing is so broken up this week. I hope it all makes sense. For those who have not watched conference yet, enjoy!

Love,
Elder Chong

P.S. It's getting colder here! Any bit of sunlight is cherished!


10 Oct 2016
Transfer 2 Week 5


Dear all,

We went to the Fitzwilliam Museum last P-day! There are many art pieces and  ancient artefacts in there from different times and different places in the world. I skipped the art because the artefacts were way cooler. (there's just too many things to see! Priorities!) Surprisingly there were some modern pieces mixed inside too. I couldn't appreciate the modern ones though. For example they had Roman coffins carved out of marble. Absolutely beautiful! It had figures and decorations carved on the outside. The modern piece was a block of marble with a cone shaped hole put through it haha.

While at the museum, I thought there'd be no point taking pictures of artefacts to show everyone as it might get boring. I now realise that describing them is far worse. Luckily, the museum itself is a work of art to behold...

 The very first thing I spotted when arriving were the 2 Lions! (Singapore means lion city) It reminded me of the 2 lions guarding the SAFTI Tower at the Officer Cadet School. Good old days there, but I'm not eager to go through the training there again haha.

 Here's the tour group! 3 Californians and a Singaporean (:

 Isn't it magnificent?


The interior was even better! This is just a glimpse

 The coolest exhibit was of the weapons and armour. Some weapons looked so evil. There was this massive sword that's probably as tall as me!

Sometimes on P-days I like to spend a little more time on dinner. This would normally mean using the oven...


 Those are '89p for 20 sausages' from ASDA. Let's just say you get what you pay for. I don't recommend it unless you love flour made to taste like meat.

I want to share a tiny blessing I received the past week. I was kind of craving dumplings, and guess what? One of the members suddenly offered to bring them for one of the lessons we had with one of the people we're teaching!

 I ate the dumplings with an interesting sauce. It was soy sauce with lemon!

 I decided to bring some extra fried rice I had from lunch and it became a small Asian picnic at the chapel kitchen heheh.

Right now we do not have a ward mission leader, so the second counsellor in the bishopric is standing in and we have our correlation meetings with him. Last week, he invited us to have pancakes before the meeting! :D

The apples are organic! Right from the backyard of the member's home! I don't know how but they have Costco maple syrup. Yum!

 I was so fascinated by the apple peeler! It's such a brilliant invention.

Ok I think I've spoken too much about food. I suspect the cold weather here makes me hungry for warm food all the time. Onto more serious matters, I've been meeting with people who have had negative experiences caused by others. In particular, betrayal and being let down by "friends". It was painful listening to their stories. The worse was to hear what it's like being surrounded by people who despise your happiness and rejoice in your misery. I don't want to go into the details (I should not) but this particular family that I'm working with is much like the modern version of the poor Zoramites in Alma 32:6...

6 And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word.

The family lost it all and moved out of that country where everything happened hoping to start anew. They believe that whatever happened must have happened for a reason, and they do see that it led them to want to seek peace by turning to God. They recognise how much happier
they are even though they don't have the riches of the world as they once did. They know that the lasting happiness comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Afflictions can truly humble people and prepare them to receive the gospel. But as Alma continued teaching...

16 Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.

How can one be humble without being compelled to? I think it begins with gratitude. Does being humble mean we will not be afflicted like those who need to be compelled to? Certainly not. If life were without problems, we wouldn't learn anything. Thus far all the people I've taught know that overcoming their past afflictions have helped them become stronger. I feel the same about mine.

To conclude with the wise words of King Benjamin in Mosiah 3:19...

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

May we all follow this wise counsel and be humble no matter the circumstance!

Love,
Elder Chong

P.S. It was strange to see that condensation was happening on the windows of the flat from the inside!


18 Oct 2016
Transfer 2 Week 6

Hi everyone!

Well it has been yet another transfer and I'll be staying here in Cambridge again for another 6 weeks. I'm so glad I'm staying! I feel like there is so much potential here and I want to continue working on it.

Last Tuesday we had exchanges and had to go to Bury St Edmunds for a whole day. A whole day there, means a whole day less in Cambridge. 

 We strive to maintain the frequency we meet with the people we're teaching so the remaining days in the week become more packed. Trying to stack these appointments together resulted in lots of travelling by car, train, bike and foot. It gets tiring moving around a lot but seeing people change for the better each time we see them makes it so worth it.

One of the people we're working with has a passion for collecting music records. He built a whole shed behind his house to store all these records


He's really organised tool! He catalogues all his stuff and knows exactly where each record is.

On one of the days, I had to park my bike in a unique place. You know how we have 'multi-storey car parks' in Singapore or a 'parking garage' as Americans call it. Here they have something similar for bikes. It was next to the train station and had the capacity to store 2850 bikes!


 Here at Cambridge it makes more sense to cycle in the city instead of driving. It's so much easier to get around and park the bikes!

One of the highlights this week was celebrating someone's birthday. They are the family that live about 30 miles from the church (50 minute drive) and it was the dad's 40th birthday. We had to take a train up there as usual, but this time we went a little earlier to find a family that used to meet the missionaries. Remember the last time we went up and found the street but realised we did not have the house number? Well, this time we found them... and got a referral on the way just like last time! :) we're going to see them the next time we go up to Littleport. After that short meeting, we were a little late and had to run to the train station to be picked up to get to the birthday celebration. It was about a mile (1.6km) of running along a river. It was quite scenic!

There were 3 times I stopped. First was to take the picture heheh. Second was to tie my shoe laces, and third only time was when a cow stopped in our way and stared at us. It had horns and I was wearing a red tie... so I covered my tie and slowly walked passed it. All is well haha.

I think I'm becoming like dad haha. During the birthday celebration I set my camera at a corner to film everything. I also took the initiative to take photos. I wasn't doing this for myself but for them to enjoy in the future. I know how precious and enjoyable these videos are because of what dad did in the past. In some ways I'm probably also becoming like mom. During lunch I baked some pastry puffs to bring along to the birthday.

 It's behind the Pepsi! 

Here's a photo of everyone! 

I'm trying to see people as children of God instead of judging based on things they have done in the past. As part of doing that, I try to spot attributes in them that God would have. For example, the way the person knows each of the music records he has is just like how God knows each one of us. Each one of us are accounted for and we are never forgotten! For the family, the dad works tirelessly to provide for his family. He really tries to give his children what they want. However, he doesn't simply give them everything they want. He gives it to them when they behave and the time is right, such as birthdays or Christmas. It made me think of how our Heavenly Father really wants to bless us but he doesn't give us everything we want whenever we want.

Speaking of blessings, I've seen tiny blessings recently. I've been studying a bit of the Old Testament and read about Noah. I learned of the significance of the rainbow and thought about how I haven't seen one in a while. Soon enough, I did see a rainbow here!

Another time, I was kind of craving noodles and leafy vegetables. Well, the owner of the Asian Shop that we go to invited us over to his place and we had instant noodle with Kai Lan and oyster sauce! :) We also met his daughter-in-law who's interested in learning more! :D

Well, these are the little blessings I've seen and I'm so grateful for them. Have a great week everyone! Look out for tiny blessings! ;)

Love,
Elder Chong

24 October 2016
Transfer 3 Week 1

Dear all,

I'm in a trio now! Elder Warburton joined Elder Dunning and I. He's originally from Texas! Being in a trio is unusual, but necessary as I have learned. We normally work in pairs but because things happen sometimes and some missionaries might suddenly have to go, the companion staying can't be left alone in the assigned area nor do we want to leave that area without missionaries. So, the trio in the mission will supply the additional missionary! Which means, anything could happen in this transfer. We could stay together for 6 weeks or somewhere in between one of us might have to leave.

Something I didn't mention last week was that we had stake conference! It was all the way at the university of Essex at Colchester. That's about an hour or so drive away. Our ward rented a mini bus to provide transportation for those who couldn't drive. It was like a road trip! But, stake conference started at 10am, and our ward was to provide a choir and we needed to rehearse before it started. There were choir members taking the bus so everyone had to be at the chapel at Cambridge at 7.00am to ride the mini bus. There was a really beautiful sunrise!

The venue was a huge lecture theatre at the univeristy. I don't even know how many people it could fit. Unfortunately the sound system wasn't very good and it was hard to hear what the speakers were saying. I did manage to roughly figure out what the message from the final speaker Elder Obando. His main focus was about strengthening the family. He mentioned that actively going to church does not guarantee activity in the gospel. Families need to be living the gospel at home, and parents need to take charge of that. Speaking on the importance of parenting, he mentioned that "we preach by word and teach by deed". When the two don't match up, one would be less inclined to listen and obey.

It's interesting being a minority group of people because it's easy to spot others haha. I found a member in the stake who's sister stays in Singapore! He went straight up to speak to a recent convert in our ward. They both speak Cantonese!

Remember how I found a Singaporean who owns an Asian supermarket here? We'll I got to go to his home last P-day. His daugther-in-law cooked what she called a "simple meal"...

For a moment it didn't feel like I was in England at all! They are such a lovely family! The daughter-in-law is such a cool mom in her free time she does cosplay and goes to conventions with her husband and children!

These are some of the props she made. 

It's the hair of Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII

They are such a cool family! We were dropping by their store one day, and someone they knew came in as well. They immediately introduced us as missionaries who teach people about Christianity. Their friend agreed to meet us and we'll be seeing her this week!

We had our usual district meeting the day after transfers. Here's our district photo:

We have Sister Jung from South Korea! Elder Warburton is the one on my right.

I just want to share a little bit of what I studied in the Old Testament. It's about Abraham being commanded to sacrifice Isaac. It was certainly a very difficult trial as Isaac was his only child together with Sarah and his birth was a miracle in its own. This was a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son and was a significant lesson for Abraham.

George Q. Cannon spoke about why the Lord tested Abraham:

“Why did the Lord ask such things of Abraham? Because, knowing what his future would be and that he would be the father of an innumerable posterity, he was determined to test him. God did not do this for His own sake for He knew by His foreknowledge what Abraham would do; but the purpose was to impress upon Abraham a lesson and to enable him to attain unto knowledge that he could not obtain in any other way. That is why God tries all of us. It is not for His own knowledge for He knows all things beforehand. He knows all your lives and everything you will do. But He tries us for our own good that we may know ourselves; for it is most important that a man should know himself."

When I was reading this, I thought back about this big question we had during a lesson in my 3rd year of seminary. It was a dilemma about God already knowing what would happen in our lives and what we would do, and that our fate is already sealed. I feel that God knows us already and just like Abraham, we are given trials that we can truly learn and know ourselves. We make choices here on earth that determine our destiny and learn as we make these choices. The good thing is, we face will never face more than we can bear! (Alma 13:28) So that's where for-ordination comes in, God knew exactly that Abraham could overcome his trial. Likewise, we can definitely overcome ours!

Have a great week everyone!

Love,
Elder Chong


31 Oct 2016
Transfer 3 Week 2

Hey everyone!

Last Saturday night we had to turn the clock back one hour which meant we got to enjoy an extra hour of sleep! However that means the sun sets an hour earlier too. It's interesting to see how the weather and sunlight affects the movement of people here. Back in summer people would still be walking about at 8pm, but now at 5pm there's barely anyone on the streets. During the day when it's abnormally sunny, traffic becomes really heavy on the roads because people start taking day trips to places! 

The leaves here are starting to fall! It's so cool! There are orange leaves everywhere as no one is sweeping them up. I was told that seasons make it feel like time is moving forward. I really feel it. It's so different from Singapore where it's always sunny and the temperature and plants don't really change. With the cold temperature here, warm food becomes extra appetising. I found a steamer in the flat and it just so happened that our friends in the Asian supermarket gave us frozen custard paus!

The custard wasn't that nice but it was so nice to eat a pau again!

A member in the ward passed away and we attended her funeral last week. She was such a loving person who touched the lives of many. During my time here I had the chance to help her weed her garden and give her a blessing when she was ill. She wanted her funeral to be more of a celebration of her life. Her children were wearing flowery and colourful dresses which was her favourite. They requested the ward to sing this song called 'Jerusalem'. Apparently it's a well known English hymn but it's the first time I've heard it and sang it. It wasn't easy!

Zone training meeting on Friday felt very different from the ones I've had previously. Maybe it's because I don't know so many of the other missionaries. I think I sort of understand what it's like for investigators when the first two missionaries they met move out from the ward. The zone leaders I first knew when I came here are both gone now and I got so used to them that I feel like I need to adjust a bit right now. It was fun taking pictures with all the leaves though!

On Sunday we had to teach a primary class at very short notice. We were told right after the first hour. Thankfully it was the 7-8 year olds and there were only 2 girls. It's probably stereotypical to say girls are easier to teach but it's so true. The lesson was about forgiveness. We had a lot of fun acting out the stories from the lesson. I really enjoyed the object lesson about how choosing not to forgive is like carrying weight that becomes a burden and brings us down. The children really loved to give high fives. So I stuffed my sling bag with loads of books till it was really heavy and had them sling it. They could not jump high enough to give a high five haha. It was that heavy! We then had them remove the books from the bag while giving examples of things we can do to forgive others. They understood the lesson so well! But of course they were looking forward to the end of the lesson because of the treats promised to them!
Treats are the best things in primary! I was actually sad to leave primary to join the youth when I was 12 because of the treats haha. We had to divide the gummies equally and counted them one by one haha.

I think I haven't mentioned that there's someone studying here at Cambridge and she had previously studied in Singapore! What's so cool is that she was converted in Singapore! She helps us in lessons and she's and does an amazing job. She attended 2nd ward back home so
we've never met before, but she said she probably saw me at institute a few times. The world is so small!


Well, I have to go now. It's Halloween today and we're going to visit a family who take it really seriously. I've heard that many people go all the way to their home to see their decorations until there's a lack of parking space. I'm looking forward to going there!
Have a great week ahead!

Love,
Elder Chong


8 Nov 2016
Transfer 3 Week 3

Hi everyone!

So here are the photos from the home I visited on Halloween last Monday!


I took the pictures before it got dark. It just so happen that night that there was a thick fog, it really made the place even spookier!

After visiting the home last Monday night, I received a phone call from President Stevens telling me that there was a missionary joining the mission again after settling some medical issues, and amongst the trio I've been in Cambridge the longest and thus would be the one to go and be the companion of the returning missionary... and we had to open up an area in Bletchley! I had to go to London on Wednesday which left me with Tuesday as my last day in Cambridge!

Coincidentally we had district meeting on Tuesday morning so I got to say a proper goodbye to my district. I felt like there's so much more I wanted to do at Cambridge but if it's time to go then it's time to go. I'm definitely going to miss a lot of people at Cambridge!

So on Wednesday morning I had to go to London to meet up with my new companion Elder Falke and head on to Bletchley. Taking the tube and train while moving 4 suitcases together is no fun at all! Especially when the station didn't have elevators. It definitely covered my workout for the day. Here's our picture at the station:

So here's what happened after we arrived. We were told that we would be picked up by other missionaries at 2pm. We arrived around that time and waited till 2.30pm and no one came. We didn't have a phone so we went to borrow a stranger's phone to make a call. It turned out that they didn't even know they were supposed to pick us up! This felt a lot like the good old days in the army haha. Only, we don't sit down and wait. We had a good hour and a half of finding around the station and actually found someone to teach!

On Wednesday night, I received a call from the Elders back at Cambridge. It was quite unfortunate but there's someone we visit each week and I forgot to tell him that I was leaving. He knew my birthday was drawing near and that he would be on holiday and wouldn't be able to meet with us. So he got me a cake only to be disappointed that I had left :( The other Elders took a picture for me though:

I got permission to give him a call to thank him. He's such a kind person. He's not been to church for 50 years and he's recently started reading the Book of Mormon again and wants to finish reading it. He acknowledges the change he feels in him as he reads it. I encouraged him to keep reading to the end!

Bletchley is nearby Milton Keynes and it's where the Enigma was decoded during WWII. I only know this because I watched the movie called "The Imitation Game" or something like that. Benedict Cumberbatch starred in that movie. Oh I heard from people that he's also Dr Strange from a Marvel movie! Anyway, that place where the Enigma was decoded has now been turned into a museum. Apart from that, I don't think there's anything else really significant here. The roads here feel more organised than Cambridge. They are straighter and look squarish on the map unlike cambridge. I was told it's because an American planned it.

So the transport we have here are bikes and when we arrived the bikes were not in good condition. We couldn't get anywhere! So our priority was to fix the bikes. We walked with our bikes to the bike shop. It took about an hour and a half to get there. It was supposed to be 30 minutes but we stopped to talk to people along the way! Anyway we arrived there and found out what were the problems. To have the bike shop fix it was too expensive so we bought the parts and tried to fix the bikes on our own. Well, actually Elder Falke fixed it haha:

Somehow we managed to find all the tools we needed in the flat to fix the bikes. It was such a happy moment when the bikes were finally fixed. We felt liberated to be able to cycle! The bikes were so much better than in Cambridge after they were fixed. This is after our first ride out:

It was really cold! I had enough warm clothing but I can't cover my face haha.

I finally decided to get some fish and chips. I haven't got any since I've been here. It was delicious! But, I definitely won't get it often.


Well I have to go now! Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


15 Nov 2016
Transfer 3 Week 4

Hi everyone!

The past week has been amazing! Elder Falke and I have only just arrived here but things are picking up very fast!

Tuesday was a blast! It was my turn to shower first after exercise and when I was done I found this on the table:

Elder Falke made me a birthday breakfast! :)
In case you're wondering, that remote is for the music player and not a television ;)
Anyway, the breakfast is in addition to the smoothie he makes every morning:

It's a blend of spinach, banana and orange. It's something I look forward to every day, especially during his torturous workout haha.

When we were back in the flat for lunch in the afternoon, the other Elders in the ward dropped to swap our vehicles. We are using the car now and they are using the bikes. They also brought a little surprise!

Cheesecake! :D

Fast forward to the end of the day, I finally got to the moment I was waiting for all day!


 I'm going to have to work out extra hard in the morning with all that delicious candy and food!

Having just moved here and starting a new area, we've been doing a lot of finding the whole week. It's been quite an amazing experience! On Tuesday we found one person. He gave us an address and we went there on Wednesday. No one was home and it didn't seem like anyone lived there. However, we started going around the neighbourhood and soon realised it is such a good area. Fast forward to end of the week, we have 7 new people to teach! Then on Sunday, a lady walked into church for the first time and was interested to learn more! That ended the week with 8 new people to teach! The Lord is really multiplying our efforts!

It is so much hard work here! I'm feeling tired at the end of each day but I feel fulfilled when I do my best each day! We've definitely been so blessed the past week! I never really knew what to expect having just moved here but it looks really exciting!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes and gifts! I truly had such a great birthday filled with so much love!

Have an amazing week ahead!

Love,
Elder Chong

P.S. There has recently been so much going on in our district and many of us are new. We decided to have a district lunch together after district meeting:

We are a truly international district! We have people from America, Germany, Philippines, Pakistan, Taiwan, and of course... Singapore! :)

I ordered my all time favourite Hor Fun expecting it to be in gravy just like home, but it was a dry type. Oh well! I have to learn to make it!

P.S.S. It just so happens that I have the same name (in Mandarin) as Elder Chang! People do get confused haha!


22 Nov 2016
Transfer 3 Week 5

It's getting colder here! I miss how easy it was to get out of a building quickly. It takes quite a while to wear more layers to keep warm. After adding each layer I have to adjust the sleeves which is pretty annoying. However troublesome it is though, it is worth it. It feels great to feel warm outside despite the weather being cold. As I like to tell Elder Falke, I feel "invincible"...... as long as it doesn't rain haha. Nothing can protect us from the cold when we're soaked from heavy rain.

I've had exchanges with 2 different missionaries last week which was quite fun. On Tuesday, I worked with Elder Aranda from the Philippines! I had to use the bikes again which was fun! I cooked some Hoisin Garlic Chicken for lunch. He really loves the rice I cook from the pot on the stove. I'm glad mom taught me how to cook rice properly on the stove!





29 Nov 2016
Transfer 3 Week 6

Dear all,

Something is wrong here. Time seems to be passing too fast. It feels like time is being fast-forwarded and I'm simply not keeping up. It might be because there's so little sunlight here right now. The sun currently rises at 7am and sets at 4pm!

The past week we planned to visit a family of the ward each day. We've been very successful in doing that. It's not that we're very good, but it's the members that are extremely accommodating. There are so many young families in the ward which is really nice!

Each home we visited is so different! One of the family stays in what feels like in the middle of nowhere. It felt like we were visiting a castle, especially because of the door: 

The key is massive!

Here's the picture of the whole door:

The member is actually a barrister and let us try on the horse hair and gown!

I'm not as confident as I'd like to be as a missionary right now, but I do see myself improving slowly. I often think too much and wonder if my thoughts are my thoughts or inspired by the Holy Spirit. Working with Elder Falke has really helped me gain some confidence though. We try our best to prepare messages according to each family's needs. It is very reassuring when the first thought that comes to my mind is exactly what he thought of as well. It has happened many times when thinking of a topic to teach. It even happens during the lesson when I think of a scripture to share, but hesitate...... and then Elder Falke reads it anyway.

There were times when we felt completely uninspired as well. It was when we visited a member whose husband isn't a member. He really loves to play chess and Elder Falke did accept the challenge to a game. We concurrently tried having a discussion with him and see if he would have any interest. It became a very lengthy game/discussion and we didn't seem to get anywhere. (Elder Falke was losing the game too!) We definitely stayed there longer than we should have, hoping to spark an interest in him. However, we both felt a sort of emptiness and didn't really know what else to say. At this point we decided it's time to go even though we didn't finish the game. We regretted staying there too long as it wasted a lot of time.

We had to go back again on another day to administer the sacrament to the member. This time, we were determined not to waste time on the game of chess. Elder Falke still continued the game from last time but he focused his attention on our short spiritual thought to the member. The husband kept trying to get the attention of Elder Falke by making comments about how the game was going but Elder a Falke was very focused on the message (even though he did make some moves). When we finished sharing our message, felt we had done all that we needed to do there, and decided it was time to go. Elder Falke had not yet finished the game. What's really interesting is that as terrible as I am with chess, I could clearly see Elder Falke was winning--a huge change from where we left off the previous visit!

We definitely felt a lot better after the 2nd time we went there. I personally feel I learned a lot better whether I'm being guided by the Holy Spirit or not because of the contrast of the 2 times I was there. It reminds me of the principle taught in 2 Nephi 2:23 "wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin." It's difficult if not impossible to learn and progress if there are no opposites. I've been knocking on doors a lot here and many people say they do not believe in God because if there was, He wouldn't allow bad things to happen. It is difficult to give a satisfactory answer in about 15 seconds, which is how patient people usually are at the door. However, I've yet to meet someone who disagreed that they've become a stronger person after overcoming their difficulties in life.

I've been continuing in my Book of Mormon reading and have been reminded just recently in Helaman 12:3 of another reason why bad things happen. It's what I would call a sad truth. It's harsh but the record of the Nephites in ancient America found in the Book of Mormon and the record of the Israelites in the Bible prove it to be true.

Well I'm out of time now. I'm now entering my 4th transfer and will be staying in Bletchley for Christmas! (Unless something crazy happens again which I hope not!) I wanted to clear the stuff in the fridge for the new transfer so I tried to use as much as I could before buying more stuff today. It was a rather nice end-of-transfer-dinner I would say:

The work is always worth it when you have a happy & motivated companion :)

It took me 40 mins to do this for dinner. It was only possible because Elder Falke helped to cook lunch in which I could spend about 30 minutes cutting up everything and marinating the meat. I cut and peel potatoes too slowly haha.

Ok my time is really up! Have a great week ahead as we enter December! (I can't believe it's December already!!!)

Love,
Elder Chong


5 Dec 2016
Transfer 4 Week 1

Hi everyone!

Wow, I woke up one morning and my throat was dry and had a burning sensation. I get this terrible sore throat about once a year. It's very annoying when waking up but it slowly gets better throughout the day. A side effect of the sore throat is that my voice goes really low which is rather fun because I can then sing a low G easily. Sadly I still can't hit the low F :(
Nonetheless is a great time to be singing bass.

Speaking of singing, the ward here is doing a Christmas Carol Concert together with another ward. They want us missionaries to participate but I simply can't find the time to practice at all. The pieces aren't all that easy either. The tenor goes up to an F sharp and the basses go down to the low E >.< It makes the sad life of one with a voice range of a baritone all the more miserable.

On the bright side of things, we don't have time to practice because we're constantly meeting with people. It has been incredible to see how our teaching pool has grown so quickly. It has been a lot of hard work (and still is!) but as we sift through so many people and finally find the one or two that are actually interested and want to make a change in their lives, it brings so much joy!

What brings even greater joy is when members join us in the work! There's a member here who's very successful and very busy but still willingly sets time aside in his schedule to help us out. If there's one thing I've learned about successful people, it's that they manage their time extremely well. Time is very much like money; we give up some for others and take up some of theirs. There are so many things we can spend time on but not all of them are of great worth. 

While serving a mission here I'm learning to plan each day very carefully. It's actually really fun and convenient with the planner app we have on the iPad. Back home I could remember all the things I needed to do from the the top of my head but now it's not that simple! I know the app is so effective because we've never forgotten to do anything(yet)! 

So our district hasn't changed at all except an additional sister. This is quite rare but our district has only been together for 4 weeks anyway. We've seen so many miracles here as a district! When we first came some of our key indicators for the week were at 0. Last week they were at double digits! We've been working so hard and it's just so great to see some form of indication that we're getting somewhere! 

 Some of the days here are extremely foggy. There isn't snow here but it's still very white because of the fog and the frost everywhere. The cold has such an interesting effect. When cars drive by, they literally leave a visible puff of smoke behind like in cartoons!
The fog also creates a a spooky effect suitable for a zombie apocalypse heheh. This picture reminded me of the game "Left 4 Dead" which I used to play with Kor Kor, Ern and Ray.

One last random thing:

The insoles I had used since July had already worn out. I decided to get some heavy duty insoles as a replacement. It makes SUCH a difference. These ones are about as comfortable as the ones I used in my army boots. I can definitely walk in them all day! The only silly thing about it was that I had to buy the female size because the male size was too big. However, it fit perfectly and I didn't have to trim out anything! :)

Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


13 Dec 2016
Transfer 4 Week 2

Hi everyone!

Question: what would you do with a 95 year old tree that has died?
Answer:
Make a giant bench out of it!

We were out in the park and couldn't believe what we saw! They even have a small sign nearby explaining why it's there:

 Something else hilarious in the neighbourhood was this:
I've definitely seen something similar in Malaysia haha. It's ironic how when we're told not to do something, we'll do it.(Don't think of a pink elephant!) On the other hand, when we're constantly told do do something we tend not to do it (daily scripture study?)

Here's one last funny thing we saw when we went knocking on doors:
If you're wondering, no one answered the door!

One of the highlights last week was zone training meeting! It was great to see the other missionaries in the zone. I've been hearing them on the conferences calls for about 5 weeks and not know who they are!
For some reason someone tried to wrestle me for fun at the field. He was pushing me backwards and I was about to fall. I don't know how but I flipped him over by accident. Must be a reflex from close combat training back in NS haha. I'm glad he wasn't injured though.

I got a package during after the meeting!

I don't know who it's from but thank you! It's perfect for Christmas!

During the week I also helped a member set up his keyboard. It has not been used for 4 years and it still works! It was fun playing a bit on it. The member's wife was kind of grumpy when she got home from work but when we left she was very happy. Music does wonders!

We ate at the Asian shop (owned by one of the bishops in another ward) again!

This time I got wonton noodles! The wontons were smaller than those in Hong Kong but bigger than those in Singapore. Nonetheless it was delicious! I miss using chopsticks.

Something new I learned was that there are clocks for dyslexic people. At first I thought something was wrong with the clock!
I'm sorry I don't have much time to write. Will try better next week! Have a great week in the mean time! :)

Love,
Elder Chong


20 Dec 2016
Transfer 4 Week 3

Hi everyone!

The highlight of last week was Christmas Conference! The first half
was the trainings and the second half was the fun part where we
changed into our Christmas jumpers. The theme of the activities was
"Sweaterlympics" where we had districts compete against each other in
a series of games. The catch however, is that the participants must be
in a companionship sweater! I took part in a race where we had to
crawl and blow a ping pong ball using straws. I think it was much
better than the sandwich race where the companions had to assemble and
finish the sandwich.

We also had district meeting and Elder Falke decided we'd get Costco
pizzas since one of the missionaries has a Costco card. The pizza was
HUGE. I struggled to finish my second slice!

I did quite some cooking the past week. We had exchanges which allowed
me to cook for the other Elders in the district. It was almost like a
meal from home as we had stir fried chicken with hoisin sauce and an
onion omelette. The only thing lacking was some leafy greens and soup.
Oh wells!

It was Elder Falke's birthday on Saturday so I pulled out my special
sweet and sour sauce!

Well, once again I don't have enough time to write more. But, have a
Merry Christmas! 

Love,
Elder Chong

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26 Dec 2016
Transfer 4 Week 4

Hi everyone,

Wow I've lost my voice and have a bit of a headache. I must have been doing too much Christmas Carolling haha.
We went to visit a care home and sang some carols for them...


They loved it so much they wanted us go to another branch at a different location on a separate day!

On Christmas Eve we went out with 2 families from the ward to sing carols for various families. It was lovely to visit so many less active members whom we have not met before. It was nice to put smiles on their faces. Some of them are actually very lonely people. After going about carolling, we spent Christmas Eve with the family we went out with!

We were allowed to watch one Disney movie and so we watched the Princess and the Frog.

On Sunday we had Christmas readings and lots of singing as well. You know those boards where they put up the numbers of the hymns we sing? (I can't think of a specific name for it) Well, it had five rows and all were filled up. Half way through the service we sang all 5 of those hymns and they switched up another 5 haha. It was lovely singing so many Christmas hymns, since we don't get to sing them so often.

After church, we spent time with one of the family from the ward. We basically played board games the whole time! :)

 We did our Christmas calls to family there and then left for the next family that invited us over for dinner...
I must say I do miss hanging out with people, and playing board games. There's just no time to do that on a mission (except Christmas time haha). I feel very blessed to be surrounded by loving people wherever I go. I feel that here on a mission, I've felt that back in the army, and back in school. As introverted as I am, and as much as I treasure time alone, I do know that being alone and having no one to talk to is very depressing. I'm grateful for all those people, and I hope I have been able to reach out to those who needed it.

Speaking of blessings... 
 
 Thank you for the Christmas packages! :D I've gotten so much food which is totally awesome! 

To count just one more little blessing that's a little vain, I chanced upon a charity shop last P-day and found a winter coat that fit me perfectly!

The best part is that it cost me £4 :)

Anyway, it has been a wonderful year! Full of ups and downs as with any other year. Hopefully the outcome of that is a better me. I realise that this is the last email for the year. So, applying something very important that I have learned so far, I would encourage everyone to set goals for the next year! 

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season and have a Happy New Year!!!

Love,
Elder Chong


3 Jan 2017
Transfer 4 Week 5

Happy New Year!

Last week felt like an extended Christmas!

So last monday, on the night of boxing day, I was about to get into bed and found a surprise!

 Then on Tuesday, more packages arrived!
 
I certainly have an abundance of food and treats to start off the new year! Thank you so much for the stuff! :)

We met a Romanian chef while finding, and she invited us for a Romanian meal!
 

It's meat and rice wrapped up in cabbage along with a sort of bread made of corn flour and cheese on top. Very delicious!

On one of the mornings, it was frosty everywhere! 

I called it a "white Christmas" because it's the most white I've seen, but Elder Falke laughed and said I need to go to Germany to see a REAL white Christmas. I don't know if I want to be in a place that cold though!

I would say I had a very peaceful and quiet new year's eve last year. We went to bed on time, but we did visit a family in the evening. We shared a message about remembering Lot's wife. The simple moral of the story is that we need to move forward without looking back! The new year is always a nice time to start anew!

Sorry this is so short again! Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


11 Jan 2017 (Hump Day or 6 months on mission)
Transfer 4 Week 6

Hello everyone!

This is crazy! I just hit my 6 month mark! It has been full of ups and downs.

Last Monday was a holiday! Some families from the ward organised a nerf gun war and invited all the missionaries in the district!
It was us missionaries against all the kids. We tried all sorts of strategy but kept losing each time. There were simply too many of them!

We had family home evening with the same family we spent Christmas with. They bought some Chinese lanterns and we lit them and let them into the sky!
 
 
It's my first time doing it actually! I thought it was funny how the representation of my hopes and dreams will eventually be someone else's rubbish. Won't do this often for sure haha.

Also, we had zone meeting on Friday! It's kind of strange because it's right before transfers and we set goals together not knowing if we'll still be in the zone. However, it was really good. I enjoyed the trainings which focused a lot on the fundamental skills as a missionary. Here's a fun photo as a zone:


As usual, we receive our supplies, letters and packages after the meeting. I was surprised to receive a package again!
 
Of all the things I could receive, this is what I would never expect:

 don't know who it's from, but thank you! I get the message :P

We had a wonderful testimony meeting at church on Sunday. All of us missionaries went up to bear our testimonies. Somehow all 4 of us mentioned facing rejection the past month. Shortly after, a member went up and told us "Elders, the reason why you all are facing so much rejection is because the Lord is preparing you for dating after the mission!". Wow haha!

Anyway, my thoughts on rejection is that is has been helping my testimony to grow stronger. Talking to people every day who tell me why the church is not true and make logical arguments about it can somewhat shake me sometimes, but what I've found is that everything goes down to my testimony of the Book of Mormon. Studying it every day certainly makes a difference. Having just finished reading it through again by Christmas last year, I feel that my testimony has grown stronger. It's not just in myself that I see this growth. With the people we meet, the ones who show progress are the ones who actually make the time to read and ponder the words and message it contains. I think I understand better the saying of how the Book of Mormon is the foundation of our testimonies.

Some random things to share...
I've been experimenting with the slow cooker in the flat and it's turned out pretty well!


 We also helped a member move furniture:
What happened was that some wiring was faulty in the home and the electrician needed to remove the floor boards. Before he could do that though, we had to move all the furniture and books into the next room! I learned something though, when I first came here I wondered why they didn't know how to make solid flooring as the floor always made a squeaky sound. I didn't know they like to put wiring under the floor!

Anyway, have a great week ahead!

Love,
Elder Chong


17 Jan 2017 
Transfer 5 Week 1

Hello everyone!

It's a new transfer! I've had many first experiences in the very first week of this new transfer. What's not new though, is that I have a different companion again. It's my 5th transfer and I have a 5th companion! His name is Elder Bourne and he's from Canada!

So during the day of transfers I found all the other Elders from my MTC group:
It was a short and sweet reunion after 6 months of being on a mission! I was glad to see all of them! It kind of reminded me of Alma 17:1-2 haha.

On the train ride back to Bletchley, I met Elder Dunning whom I served with back in Cambridge!




It was nice to hear about how things were going back in Cambridge since I left. It seemed like all the great miracles happened when I left! An example would be how a Chinese family just walked into church one Sunday and wanted to take discussions!

So as I mentioned having many firsts earlier, one of them is snow!



Well, it's not my first time seeing snow, but it's the first time seeing fresh, falling snow. The first time I saw snow it was raining which wasn't all too nice. Anyway, the snow didn't last long, it snowed in the morning as we were on the way to district meeting and by the time district meeting ended by noon, it all melted away.

Speaking of district meeting. Our district is a true Asian invasion!


So we have people from Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Pakistan, Canada, USA and Malaysia! Sister Chiping in the center is actually from Sarawak! I don't know why this is happening but it must be for a reason.

So another first for me is trying Jellof Rice. I'm not actually sure how to spell it, but it tasted delicious! 


Finding the past week was kind of strange. Each time we started finding, the very first person started bashing with us, for various reasons. One of them was a man who had lost many family members, including a young nephew. His heart was extremely hardened. All we could do was leave our testimonies and walk away as there was a strong spirit of contention. What really pricked me was what he said as we walked away: "We'll see whether you'll still believe in your God when your own child dies!" I quickly replied "I bet I will!" but thought later on, I wouldn't really know since I've never experienced such a thing. But for now, I know I want to.

Well, I have to go now! P-day next week will be on Tuesday as we will be having interviews with President and Sister Stevens on Monday. So don't be alarmed if there's no email on Monday!

Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


24 Jan 2017 
Transfer 5 Week 2

Hi everyone!

Somehow no matter how hard I try, week 2 in every transfer seems to be rough. Different things turned up for the people we are teaching and we couldn't teach them during the week. We had a ton of time to go finding people (even a whole day on Saturday) but no one wanted to meet with us again. I guess it felt like the kind of week where everything fell apart.

So immediately after a rough week, we then have interviews with President and Sister Stevens the next day! Yay. Haha! Well, I felt like I did all I could, but I'll see how I can do better this week. I really felt that the training from President and Sister Stevens was exactly what I needed. It was based on the talk from the October 2016 General Conference by Elder Bednar titled "If Ye Had Known Me". They focused a lot on faith in Jesus Christ.

One quote I like from the talk is "Learning and applying in our lives the doctrine of Christ is a prerequisite to receiving the gift of faith in Him" As I teach people, I like to emphasise that more than just learning, they need to act on what we teach in order to truly know if what we teach is true. I know for certain that my faith comes from living the gospel and not simply studying it.

Faith is truly a principle of action. Sister Stevens said something that hit me really hard: "Have you ever thought that when Christ stood and promised to come to earth to fulfill the Atonement, you had faith that he would? At that moment I felt that I knew for certain that I supported the plan of salvation and Jesus Christ as the Saviour. I had faith that He would fulfill all that Heavenly Father commanded. I knew that life wouldn't be easy... as it is right now. Yet, I know I signed up for this. Here I am continuing to do my part. I do not think it is a coincidence that I was born into a family that had the gospel. It is a blessing to be able to live in a time where the gospel has been restored in its fulness. A time where we know that Christ already came to earth and fulfilled what He promised to do. That alone brings me so much hope and a boost to my faith.

At the end of the training, I knew the message for me was to have faith and carry on!

Here are some unique things from the past week:

We helped a member who lives alone to set up some curtain railings. It took way longer that expected for a whole lot of reasons...
 (1) She bought them coiled up which we needed to straighten using hot water but...
 (2) She does not have running hot water from the tap, so we had to use a kettle to boil water and fill up the sink.
After soaking the curtain rails in and straightening it out, we had to measure and cut out the correct length but...
 (3) She does not have a saw. So, we used her chopping board and a knife with teeth.
We then had to put it up on the wall but...
 (4) She didn't have a drill. So, we used our bare hands and a screwdriver.
We did this 3 times! Moral of the story: Having the right tools makes the job a lot easier.

Here was some entertainment to keep us going:
Her dog could stand!

This is what we tried to do to make the dog do the trick. We soon learned that it only did it when it wanted food.

Speaking of food...
I was happy. So happy. The family gave us the leftovers and I had the same food for lunch for about 3 days! I'm still not sick of it haha.
A member also brought us out for dinner with our investigator at a Thai restaurant. We let the member do all the ordering of course. He ordered the spiciest curry there was and also a raw chili, just because. You know, I'm Asian. ;) It was a wonderful meal indeed!

To close this email, I'll just share a skill that my companion has! 


He was an electrician before serving a mission. He has even done electrical work for chapels back in Canada! Thanks to him our kitchen is now bright and cheery again! (Will be tidied up soon)

Have a wonderful week ahead! When things get tough, don't forget why we are here on earth!

Love,
Elder Chong


31 Jan 2017 
Transfer 5 Week 3

Hi everyone!

The past week felt so short because of interviews on Monday as well as an exchange!
Exchanges are sure great! I always learn a lot from exchanges. I must say, though, I'm always glad to be back in my own flat haha.

This week we decided to try finding at a university at a small town. The people there were very different. They were more willing to talk unless they're rushing to a lecture. The campus is pretty nice too: 

 I'm starting to have some cravings for certain foods so..
 the best way is to make it!
While getting ingredients from the Asian market, we also decided to get chopsticks. Noodles are definitely more delicious when eaten with chopsticks!

I'm certainly very blessed when it comes to food cravings, because this is how I spent Chinese New Year's Eve last Saturday:
It was a feast! It was the same family from Hong Kong that invited us over the week before. They're so generous!

Here's part 2:
Unfortunately I don't have the photos with them as it was taken with their camera. I'll send them next week!

Here are some words of wisdom from my fortune cookie:
I guess we already know that from the gospel, but it's a good reminder!

Well, I hope I have more to share next week. For those back home, have a wonderful time visiting relatives and friends!

Love,
Elder Chong


7 Feb 2017 
Transfer 5 Week 4

Hi everyone!

Sometimes I feel like I'm in a computer game. We go around town talking to people and we learn quite a bit about what's going on, what's popular etc. In the game you'll eventually know where you need to go to continue the quest because everyone talks about a certain place or certain person you need to meet. Well, for the past 3 months I've been here, people keep talking about 'The Church of Christ the Cornerstone'. Some said it was a great place, some said it was just a business. So last P-Day we decided to go as a district to see what it's all about. 

It is actually an ecumenical church where different Christian denominations meet. The venues are rented out for different groups and functions. The entrance is a shop selling Christian related items and books, the left is a cafe, and the right is a prayer room. Many people were actually entering to donate blood! They set up a blood donation centre in one of the halls. Well, I didn't feel like I should take pictures inside but here's one outside:

I wondered why it took so long for them to help me take a photo, but when I got my iPad back, I realised why:

 I also finally managed to take a picture with a very unique sign here:
I mentioned last time that Bletchley is where they broke the Enigma code in WWII!

I don't know why, but zone meetings seem to come faster and faster:

 We've been seeing each other so much this transfer because there were interviews and stake conference, next week will be zone conference and we'll see each other again!

So here's my little miracle for the week, during zone meeting I got to speak to Elder Dunning whom I served with back at Cambridge. During the 3 months I was there, I tried to visit a part member family but only managed to see them twice the whole time I was there. The mom who is the only one who's not a member recently came to church and said it's about time she got baptised! She'll be baptised this month!

Lastly, here are the photos I said I'll send. It's how I spent Chinese New Year. Here's part 1:

 And here's part 2 with dessert:
They gave us the leftovers which fed me lunch the whole of last week. It was very helpful because lunch is now 30 minutes with the recent change in daily schedule! Now I have to figure out a way to survive lunches this week. Those who are back home better appreciate the hawker centres, because I sure wish we had them here haha!

Have a great week ahead!

Love,
Elder Chong


14 Feb 2017 
Transfer 5 Week 5

Hi everyone!

The past week was pretty fun! 

On p-day last Monday, we decided as a district that we should spend time doing something other than eating... more often than not at McDonald's. So, we found a place called Campbell Park.
It was kind of like a tiny hill with a big open field around it. It was freezing when the wind blows because there are no buildings or trees to block it!

Well there was actually something to block the wind. It was this lonely monument.

Here's Elder Nakaima being a Ninja. He sticks onto it like a magnet! 

There was also a place with these pillars where they record big events that happen on each pillar.
 Sad to say I couldn't get up onto the pillar on my own. I'm getting weak!

On Tuesday, I had exchanges with Elder Chang!
It's so funny to see people's reaction when they try to read our names haha. That day was the most perfect weather I've ever experienced. It was cool but sunny. We walked all day and didn't sweat nor did our feet freeze!
Of course I would take the opportunity to have noodles for both lunch and dinner heheh! :) We had instant noodles for lunch and minced pork sauce with wonton noodles for dinner! Elder Chang has really grown so much! He talks to everyone we pass by! He also didn't cook much before coming here, and now he's so confident about it!

On Wednesday we had flat inspections!!! I'm glad to report that we passed!
The inspection was done by Elder and Sister Powers who are serving in our Zone in Northampton. Now here's something really cool, Elder Powers was a national coach for swimming in Singapore!

On Friday, we had zone conference!
We focused a lot on understanding our purpose. When we truly understand our purpose as missionaries, it affects the way we do things, and our diligence and attitude we carry. This is no different from anything else we do! I found that understanding my purpose when serving national service definitely affected my motivation to do the things I did every day! (even if it seemed cliché!)

Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


21 Feb 2017 
Transfer 5 Week 6

Hi everyone!

So the past week was pretty sunny! Strange thing when it's supposed to
be winter. But I've come to accept that any weather is normal for
England. I've probably said this before, but when it's sunny people
are happy, when it's not sunny, everyone is grumpy. Seizing the
opportunities to talk to people, we went out to parks to talk to
people! There are actually many nice parks here. You won't feel like
you're living in a city at all! Much like the nature reserves and
reservoirs in Singapore.

A highlight this week was doing service. We cleared a garage and moved
stuff from a bedroom upstairs to the downstairs garage. Previously we
moved stuff into the room when I first came here 3 months ago. That
time I thought "good luck to whoever has to move this in future". Here
moving the very same boxes I stacked! >.<

Sorry that this email is so short. It has been a crazy P-day!

Love you all and have a great week!
Elder Chong

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28 Feb 2017 
Transfer 6 Week 1


Hi everyone!

I got transferred to Hyde Park 2nd Ward in London! It's a rather crazy
change from Bletchley. The pace of everything is so fast! It feels
just like Singapore actually. Talking to people on the street is fun,
there's people from everywhere! Talking to people on the tube (like
the MRT in Singapore) underground is scary though. Still trying to get
used to it.

So last P-day was mostly spent saying goodbye to members in Bletchley.
I went back to the Asian eatery to have some Singapore laksa! The
garnish was different but the gravy was just like home! Moving is
always exciting and scary at the same time, but as they say 'there is
no growth in comfort, and there's no comfort in growth'.

My new companion is Elder Meier. He's from Germany as well! My second
German companion. Oh man I love working with Germans!

There was very strong wind the past week. It was quite fun going
outside to talk to people. Sometimes the wind pushed us the direction
we wanted sometimes we had to really push against it. To give an idea
of how strong the wind was, there was a tree in Hyde Park that fell
and destroyed the fence!

I passed by an apartment complex that looked really familiar, I think
it was in the movie called Kingsmen the secret service. It felt a
little sketchy there.

My first Sunday here was interesting. I attended ward council before
sacrament and there were just names flying everywhere. I was
struggling to figure out who the members in the council were in the
first place. There are 3 congregations that meet at Hyde Park chapel
at 9am11am and 1pm, but sometimes some people visit and for other
purposes so it's also hard to tell who's really from the ward. Even
finding people within the building is difficult because it's 5 storeys
high. I did bump into Mark Oshida who lived in Singapore! Sadly I
forgot to take a picture with him. He's doing well! He's actually in a
different ward that meets elsewhere, he was just visiting.

I don't know what more to say. I'm really happy to be here! I'm
excited to start a new chapter in my mission here!

Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong

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7 Mar 2017 
Transfer 6 Week 2

Hey Everyone!

The past week has been very spiritually uplifting for me despite all the hustle and bustle of London.

There are very nice parks to go finding in the area. In one of them, Elder Meier spotted a fig tree. It really looks so dead in winter. It really helps to actually see the plants mentioned in parables in the Bible.

Here's a picture to show how serious they are about their gardens:
If you can't read it, it's a sign telling Pokemon Go players to respect the garden and keep out!

One of the highlights for me was being invited over to dinner with some members: 
Only the 2 members on the left are family, but what they all have in common is that they joined the church through friends and family! They each have an amazing story to tell. They all mentioned the special feeling they felt when they first went to church--a feeling of returning home! Fun fact: The older Gentleman on the right used to be in theatre, he know Ian McKellen! He has an amazing English voice! I could listen to him talk all day!
I was really fed well physically and spiritually! This was a delicious soup with German pancake. 
On Sunday, there was a special conference where there was a special broadcast from Elder Ballard and a few members of the general authority to about members in Northern Europe. Elder Ballard said the broadcast was just as the apostle Paul writing an epistle to Corinthians. Elder Ballard was very straight to the point much like the epistles of Paul. He shared a story about the forest of sequoia trees near BYU. Sequoia trees are huge, hardy and live really long. However, there was a tree in the forest that died and the had to cut it down leaving a stump behind. They investigated and found that the tree had only lived about 50 years which is very short. Further investigations found that due to some construction of a building nearby, the water source underground had shifted and the roots of that tree could not get any water which led to its death.
Elder Ballard likened this analogy of the sequoia tress to our testimonies. We can have strong testimonies like the tree, but if it is not constantly nourished with the living water (gospel of Jesus Christ) it can still die like the tree. He mentioned very specifically what good habits we need to develop to prevent us from cutting ourselves away from the living water. It is nothing new; attending church meetings, faithful prayer, fasting, diligent scripture study.

Failure to focus on simple gospel truths allows us to be muddled by Satan and worldly philosophies. As an example, he retold the story of a missionary coming to him who had doubts and many questions about the church. Elder Ballard took down his questions and said he would answer them if the missionary would begin studying the Book of Mormon every day for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, they met again, and the missionary said he didn't need his questions to be answered. He had regained his testimony! But of course Elder Ballard had him sit down and listen to the answers as he had put in a lot of time and effort!
Elder Ballard also warned us of living beyond our means both in physical resources as well as time. He urged us to look at our calendars and see if it is so packed that there is no time to sit down and reflect at all. If we realise there is something we need to do better or repent of, the time to do that is now!
Something I realised while thinking about the analogies and parables is that many of them are to do with plants! (The olive tree, the sower, the fig tree etc.) All plants need constant nourishment and so do we!
After the conference, I spotted my cousin! :)


I hope everyone had a great week!
Love,
Elder Chong


14 Mar 2017 
Transfer 6 Week 3

Hi everyone!

The past week was packed with a lot of meetings because we had zone meeting as well as a mission tour.

On P-day we had a district lunch!
 We had a weird combination of minced pork noodle with salad and ice cream, but it was all delicious!

The highlight of the week would be the mission tour with Elder Alan Phillips. He is such an inspiring person! It's actually not the first time I met him. He was invited to speak at the Missionary Training Centre when I was there last year. Actually, he's in the ward I'm serving at right now. However, we don't see him often as he travels a lot as a Seventy.

My take away from the mission tour is focusing on love. Referring to Matthew 22:36-40, all the commandments we have are part of the two greatest commandment to love God and our everyone around us. It is difficult to be missionary without love!

An object lesson that really struck me was one using jenga blocks. If each jenga block were to represent a principle we learn, putting it all together is like building a testimony. Losing a testimony is like losing certain blocks. However, not all principles are equally important. When we take out some blocks, the jenga tower can still stand. If we take out an important jenga block. The tower will collapse. The most important block, which is a giant jenga block is Jesus Christ! He referred to Helamn 5:12...

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

Our testimonies need to be centered on Jesus Christ! When we do that, we will not fall like the jenga block. Elder Phillips pointed that it's WHEN the storms come not IF! There are many things for me to teach investigators but the most important thing is to help them build faith in Jesus Chirst.

Here's a photo from the mission tour:
 It is only half the mission as we split into 2 different days.

The day after was zone training meeting!
It was nice to have it around a table. The past 2 zones I have been in were so massive, so this one felt very cozy.

Sunday was fast and testimony meeting. It was amazing. There was an Italian couple visiting. He went up to share his testimony while President Stevens translated it. He shared that when he read the Book of Mormon for the first time, he knew it was true and decided to join the church. 2 years later he was told to meet the stake president. In that meeting, he was asked to be a branch president for a branch about 100km (66miles) away. He was shocked and asked the stake president what he should do. The stake president told him to love and serve the members in the branch. The member from Italy didn't share exactly what happened, but he said that the Lord blessed him with a car and he was able to travel to the branch every week. He has been doing that for a while now. He told us that that very morning he was in the chapel, he received a text message from a guy he has been constantly visiting and working with for long time. In the text, the person said he has finally given up smoking and will not smoke ever again, and that he's ready to prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. After so much travelling and patience, this was a miracle!

We should never give up on anyone! We are all a work in progress. Some of us just need a little more work and more time, but we should always be ready and willing to lift each other up!

Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


21 Mar 2017 
Transfer 6 Week 4

Hi everyone!

I don't have many pictures this week nor much to say. This picture would probably sum up the week...
I would call this "I don't want to talk to you". We had just entered the tube and there was no one else. The person immediately grabbed the newspaper left on the seat. That is definitely not how one would read the newspaper!

So yes, speaking to people this week was rough. It's one of those weeks where it seems nobody wants to talk to you. Nonetheless the work is great. By Thursday, and after hours and hours of talking to people on the streets, we still did not find anyone willing to meet with us again.

On Friday, we had companionship study at the chapel and watched a general conference talk from October 1993 titled 'The Lord's Wind' by Elder John H. Groberg. He shared an experience he had when serving as a young missionary in Tonga. He was told by some members to go to a particular island and meet a family waiting to be taught the gospel. The family would be waiting at the shore and he had to get there by sundown. So off he went with a few members of the church on a sailboat to get to that island. They soon found themselves in the middle of the ocean without any wind, meaning the sailboat would not move. They prayed many times but there still was no wind. It was getting late and eventually, a very old man got pulled out a tiny boat and some oars and insisted that Elder Groberg get it. That old man rowed all the way to that island just before sundown. The family was there waiting for them and eventually accepted the gospel and were baptised. The lesson learned is that sometimes we have to BE the Lord's wind. More than just praying, we have to act.

Try to watch the talk in the gospel library app, it sounds better when Elder Groberg tells shares the experience himself. After completing our companionship study, we had a little bit of time before district meeting and decided to be the Lord's wind and go out on exhibition road to find people to teach. After a few rejections we met Paul who had many questions but also very humble and willing to listen. We shared a short video about the Saviour in the chapel and he was interested to meet with us again to learn more! We met him again today, and he accepted a baptismal invitation for next month!

Here's the picture after our district meeting on Friday.
Well, I don't have enough time to share everything. There are so many ups and downs, intense and awkward situations, but in short, life is good. Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


28 Mar 2017 
Transfer 6 Week 5

The past week felt like a real test of faith and patience. There were many ups and so many downs. Talking to people on the streets was particularly hard. Somehow we kept bumping into people of other faiths who keep trying to preach to us. However, among all these people, there were still people prepared to receive the gospel. There was one evening where we were about to head back home. We were at a tube station and had a little more time, so we decided to walk to the next tube station and talk to a few more people along the way. We stopped a lady from Brazil who didn't speak much English. She immediately recognised who we were from our badges. Using simple words, she managed to describe how she met missionaries 15 years ago in Brazil. Back there she had gone to many churches and had met many who profess to be called of God, but it was only when the missionaries came to her home, that she truly 'felt the presence of Jesus'. She also said back the. Her family lived in a poor area and only missionaries from the church went there. She wanted to meet missionaries again, there are Portuguese speaking missionaries in the mission so we took her contact
details and gave it to them. I hope all goes well!

Last Monday, we went to the natural history museum. There were some really cool things in there. To me, it was like a zoo of lifeless animals. There were dinosaurs, fossils, and models of everything from
bugs to birds, mammals, sea creatures etc. Here are some pictures...
 
 
 
 
 On Saturday, we were invited to a member's home for dinner. However, I had to cook dinner! I decided to cook the same minced meat noodles I did for the district lunch a few weeks ago, since it's the fastest and easiest. Here are some pictures:
 
We had the noodles with salad and crumpets as appetisers prepared by others which was an interesting mix. It was good as we had an investigator there as well. Some members gave us a ride to the dinner and during the ride, the wife shared how she joined the church. When she was younger, she never wanted to speak to missionaries on the street. Years later when life got difficult, she felt she really needed something and knew a friend who seemed to always be happy. She called him up and he had the missionaries meet her. When she met the missionaries she really wanted to listen to them. She described one of them as having some sort of glow about him. She went to church for the first time and immediately felt that was where she wanted to be!

Sunday was particularly spiritually uplifting-- a great day to end the week. It was Mother's Day here in England so the talks were focused on mothers. The first speaker shared a really touching story of his mother's unconditional love. In his teens, he had left the church and left home to live somewhere else. He eventually got kicked out of where he was staying, and the very first person who he thought of calling for help was his mother, who drove a few hours just to pick him up and bring him home! She had always shown much love for him despite the poor decisions that he made, and that prepared the way for him to return. Back at home he felt church was very foreign to him, but a childhood friend whom he was close to invited him back. From then on he became active again.

The second speaker shared that she was the first to join the church in the family, but 10 months later her father passed away. During that difficult time, she was in the YSA Ward, where there were mostly
students who didn't have much money. Despite that, the Relief Society in the Ward started giving her and her mother meal after meal to help support them through. Her mother was not a member of the church and asked her: "How much do we have to pay for all of this?" "Nothing." "Well when will they stop giving us food?" "When we don't need it any more!" Her mother was really touched by the service of the Relief a Society. It changed her view of the church. This eventually led to her conversion a few years later. There's a whole amazing story to that, but I don't have the time to share everything.

Hearing all these stories from members this week made me realise how powerful love is. I remember a talk from general Conference where President Monson taught that love is the essence of the gospel.
Hearing all these experiences from members this past week, it reminds me of the saying "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care".

Well, that's what I learned this week. It's really hard to apply it on the street, but I'm sure I'll figure it out somehow. Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


4 Apr 2017 
Transfer 6 Week 6

Hi everyone!

Yet another transfer comes to an end. Finding has still been challenging but Elder Meier and I continue to do our best. Actually I should say finding interested people is easy, but finding genuine people has been difficult. We did find someone really genuine, but we had to refer him to the young single adult ward. So far with all the good people we find, we either don't speak their language or they are "too young" haha >.<

It has been a great week all in all, especially ending the transfer with General Conference. One of the talks that I can really relate to is the one by Elder Valeri V. Cordón about preserving language in the home. While we were talking to people in the park, we met a Chinese grandma. She couldn't understand our question in English which was "Have you ever wondered why there are so many different churches?" She didn't understand so I translated it into Mandarin. She was actually thinking about it! Which is great! Only, I couldn't give her the answer in Mandarin. :( There came that terrible feeling where you're trying to express yourself but you just feel all choked up and unable to do so.

Sometimes I wish I was brought up using more Mandarin at home. As Elder Cordón said, it takes conscious effort to do so. Mom knew many languages but only used English with me. However, what I will always be grateful for is her conscious effort in teaching us children the language of the gospel. Getting all 6 of us children to have scripture study together as a family was no easy task, but she did it. She saw the blessings it brought us as well. I could see back then how it helped unite us as a family. Something I didn't notice which she told me later on, was how Ern was lagging behind in his skill of reading in school when he was in kindergarten, but as we began reading the scriptures together every night, he improved quickly. I'm thinking a lot about mom now since today would have been her 55th birthday. It's a good thing her birthday is in April because Easter is always nearby, which serves as a good reminder to me of Christ conquering death.

Another talk I really enjoyed was by Elder Choi Yoon Hwan. He is like a Korean version Elder Holland haha. I really like the illustration he gave about what impact a single convert can have. I recently chanced upon an article from the Ensign in the mission office. Over here, they also include church news in England. The article was about a senior couple missionary serving here right now, Elder and Sister Richards. Elder Richards served a mission here over 50 years ago. During a meeting, he asked if anyone remembered him. In actual fact there was one. Her name was Sister Carter. She was taught by Elder Richards when she was 16 but her mother did not allow her to be baptised. As with all missionaries, Elder Richards was transferred and never knew what happened. Sister Carter eventually did join the church when she was 18. She met her husband in church and were sealed in the temple. They now have 7 children and 23 grandchildren. 6 of their 7 children served missions themselves. When I saw a family picture in the article, I recognised one of their children is in fact the wife of the bishop in BletchIey, where I served previously! They are an amazing family!

I could go on forever typing out things I learned from general conference, but I have to end it now. If I have to pick a favourite quote from this conference, it would be the one by Elder Choi: "Don't look around, look up!". When we have face troubles and challenges to our faith, the one we should look to is Jesus Christ!

Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


11 Apr 2017 
Transfer 7 Week 1

Hi Everyone!

The past week was really fun. The last P-day of the transfer is when everyone makes up for procrastination. We don't know whether we'll move or stay till the evening, so that P-day might be the last time you get to do anything there. That being said, we started thinking of the significant places to go to. The pick of the day was Buckingham Palace!
 
 
 
When we were there, we realised that we were at the statue found in the beginning of the Easter initiative video 'Prince of Peace'!

At the beginning of the transfer, Elder Meier and I accepted a challenge by one of the senior missionaries. We had to do 110 push ups and 25 sit ups 5 days a week. We completed the challenge and claimed our reward!
We enjoyed some really delicious burgers! However, what was better than the burgers was the advice about life that he gave us. He is a convert himself and is such a great example to us.

So the news is, Elder Meier has been transferred, and my new companion here in Hyde Park is Elder Andrews from Plainville, Massachusetts! He is awesome! He loves hands on stuff such as Lego and is a big fan of Star Wars. His skill with hands on stuff is evident in that he fixed my study chair and also the noisy air ventilator in the toilet. He just always seems to have the right stuff and skill to fix those things.

It's getting really warm here, but it's in the transitioning mode as I would say. If there's sunlight it's super hot, but when it's cloudy it does get chilly. Ice cream is such a treat right now when it's warm! There was a funny conversation in the morning in the flat:
"Good morning! It's 6th of April today. It's Jesus Christ's birthday!"
"Oh that's right! what do we do?"
"I don't know...What do we do to celebrate Jesus' birthday?"
"Gee I never thought about it."
After district meeting on that day, we decided what we'd do...
Having ice cream to celebrate the actual birthday of Jesus Christ does sound kind of "apostate" as missionaries would say. I never really thought of anything special we should do though. To me, the most important thing we do to remember Jesus Christ happens every week at church--the sacrament. This Easter season is also a great reminder of the Savior's resurrection. As some people say, without Easter, there would be no Christmas. How grateful I am for the Atonement of Jesus Christ!

Here are some other photos where I don't know where to fit in:
We went finding around Notting Hill Gate. Apparently there's a movie called Notting Hill. I have no Idea what it is about, but people stop us and ask for directions, looking for some sort of door.
 With the warm weather, the birds have returned... and so their latrine points (army term) have started appearing again!

Have a lovely week and enjoy Easter Sunday!

Love,
Elder Chong

18 Apr 2017 
Transfer 7 Week 2

Hi everyone!

Last week was really eventful!

On Monday, we participated in a Book of Mormon flashmob organised by the YSA ward here:
All of us had a copy of the Book of Mormon and read it on the tube at the same time. It sure attracted some attention!

Elder Andrews loves going to see places. Which is great! Because I have not seen many places in London yet on P-days and he knows exactly where to go. I am quite naive. When he said "Let's go to tower bridge!". I was wondering "what is tower bridge?" When we arrived there, it all became clear...
The weather was beautiful! I always appreciate good weather here, but especially on P-days!
We also went to a mall with other missionaries. It was posh. I simply enjoyed the architecture.

On Tuesday, we had our Easter Zone Conference!
I really enjoyed the training by President Stevens. He went through some scriptures in the New Testament and during that, I learned so many things I didn't realise when reading on my own. There is so much we can learn simply by studying the life of the Saviour. Sister Stevens invited us to study His life throughout our lives, beginning now in the mission. It reminded me of President Nelson's talk in general conference of how he felt like a different person after studying about Jesus Christ.
I was also happy to see my MTC companion again during Zone Conference!

Wednesday was a strange day for me. Because of some logistics, I was on exchange with Elder Gago for a day, who's serving in a Portuguese speaking ward. I felt like a brand new missionary in a completely different mission. Going on the streets looking for Portuguese and Brazilians, I had no idea what to say! I definitely don't have the gift of tongues. If I did have it, I probably would have been called as a mandarin speaking missionary!

In the evening, some members from the ward played volleyball with investigators and we joined them. I'm just terrible at sports. Whichever team I was on always lost. In short, I would say this exchange was very humbling.

There was a reward at the end of the exchange though. The flat we stayed in was on the highest floor, and it had a roof access!
 
 
Most buildings here are really low compared to Singapore. I've been on the streets a lot and in low buildings so going up and looking across everything was really refreshing!

Elder Andrews and I have been trying to find better places to find people to talk to. Because of the Easter Holiday, there was a long weekend here. In London, it means many tourists come in. So we avoided places we knew would be packed with tourists. We tried going to the housing estates, and to our surprise...
 
It was very empty. It was so strange to find so few people to talk to. I guess many people in London went out elsewhere for holiday.

Speaking of Easter, I had a wonderful Easter Sunday! I stood in for the ward organist as she was on Holiday. It was nice to end off the week knowing I can actually do something properly!

I enjoyed a lovely Easter dinner with a family from the ward. The wife's parents were visiting from Germany and were totally awesome!
I used to have the stereotype idea that Germans were very strict and perhaps stiff. God probably wanted me to change that mindset, having had 2 German companions and quite a lot of interaction with German people thus far. If anything, they not only know how to work hard and efficiently, but they also know how to have so much fun. The latter of which I'm trying to learn. Quite ironic that the stereotype mindset I had of others is actually myself!

Well, I have to go now. Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Chong


25 Apr 2017 
Transfer 7 Week 3

Hi Everyone!

On P-day last week, we decided to take a little trip to...

 Entering Costco made me feel like I was in the USA. All I really wanted was the food!
To be more specific, all I wanted were the hot dogs! :)

Somehow it was difficult finding people to teach the past week. There seems to be more tourists around. It was fun talking to a few tourists at first but after a while, it's not productive! 

Thursday was rather interesting. We basically talked to people on the streets the whole day, but couldn't find anyone interested to learn more. It was discouraging and we felt drained, so we decided to take a break. Suddenly Elder Andrews had a thought that we could have dinner first and then try finding later on, since the sun sets later now. We did so, and in the evening, it seemed many people were more open. We eventually found 2 new people who were interested to learn more!
We had district meeting this week. The focus was on being bold, and having charity. In Alma 38:12 from the Book of Mormon, Alma taught his son Shiblon to "Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love" It takes guts to tell others to repent. It is really difficult for some of the people we teach as they really have to change their lifestyle. The happiest little moments on my mission so far is when the people we teach get over those hurdles and recognise the blessings that come from keeping the commandments and how much happier they feel!

Towards the weekend it got more difficult as one of the train services was shut down for engineering works. It just so happened that that line covered the most effective places for us to talk to people. :( We did what we could.

On Saturday it was Earth Day! It just so happened that there were people who gathered on Exhibition Road, outside the chapel!
 
It was funny to see that many of the posters and signs were not related to Earth Day at all! What I found ironic for this Earth Day march was the truck that was following behind them. It followed closely behind and there were people hired to pick up the rubbish that was left behind after the mass of people marched past >.<

Lastly, here's something funny I found on the train!
If you can't see, it reads: Alcohol is a perfect solvent; It dissolves marriages, families and careers."
I hope everyone can remember some chemistry! :P

Have a great week ahead!

Love,
Elder Chong


2 May 2017 
Transfer 7 Week 4

Hi everyone!

The past week was really fun! It started off really fun, and ended really well.

On P-day we went to see a few places. First we went to the Portobello Road.

I don't know why it's famous because there was nothing much there.

After that we went to Leicester Square which was the best. We went
into a massive lego store! They had some really cool lego sculptures.
 
 
After that we went into M&M world. I didn't know what to expect other
than lots of M&Ms...

 
 Sure enough they had A TON of M&Ms! There so much candy in there that
the whole place smelt like M&Ms!

Along the streets over there, we found the Book of Mormon Musical!
Elder Andrews and I realise that many of our investigators are pretty
terrible at managing their time. We tried to picture it from their
point of view. For one of them, we realised that he doesn't have a set
time for the things he needs to do. In other words, he would have a
massive checklist of things to do in his mind, and that would
translate to being too busy and having no time to meet us at all, or
come to church on Sunday.

Serving thus far on a mission, I've really appreciated learning how to
plan for every hour of the day. We are very busy, but there's almost
always time to accomplish the things we need to do. Anyway, applying
what we learned, we found out his odd sleeping schedule and the rough
times he has to be at certain places. We persistently told him when to
meet us as we figured out the best time for him.

Eventually he did meet us during the week and even came to church
punctually. It was the first time in his life attending church and it
was very special. He said he felt like crying during sacrament
meeting. It was a lot of work to get him to come to church, but it was
all worth it. He has a Buddhist background as he's originally from
Thailand, but a certain experience in his life led him to belief there
is a God, only, he's not sure who God is. I don't think any of our
effort is the reason he was willing to come to church and meet with
us. The reason is the desire that he has to find out who God is.

I was assigned to speak during sacrament meeting last Sunday. I chose
to speak about conversion as that has been on my mind lately. I found
a talk from general conference in April 2004 titled "When thou art
converted" by Elder D. Todd Christofferson. He spoke about how we can
become truly converted, and the very first step is the desire. It made
a lot of sense to me. In everything that we do, it comes from a desire
within us. Without that desire, we probably won't be doing that thing
for long. The same applies when living the gospel.

I'm out of time now! This transfer is actually a 5 week transfer so
the coming week is the final week of the transfer, which means P-day
next week is on a Tuesday. My next email won't be till then.

Have a great week ahead!

Love,
Elder Chong

P.S. It tried making pancakes for the first time, and it turned out like crepes >.<
So Elder Andrews took over and made delicious American pancakes. He's the best! :)


9 May 2017 
Transfer 7 Week 5

Hi Everyone!

The week went by so quickly, and now the transfer is over. We wanted to end the transfer strong, and I think it really did end well. Investigators are progressing well, we managed to find some cool people to teach, and I've also managed to have a lot of Asian food this week too :)

The weather last Monday wasn't all to good. It wasn't nice to go out, so we went around indoors. We found a cheap place that sells Malaysian food. It was a hard decision because I wanted everything on the menu, but in the end I chose a Singapore Laksa!
Didn't taste like what I expected, as you can see there's a whole piece of lemongrass, so it tasted too tangy! It reminded me of a Malaysian Laksa haha. I guess I should have expected that, eating a Singapore Laksa from a Malaysian eatery >.<

Tuesday was interesting. We had 3 teaching appointments for the day, and the first one in the morning got cancelled. Shortly after, 2 people contacted us and wanted to meet with us. One in the morning and one in the evening! We had 4 appointments that day which was awesome.

Elder Andrews is a really good teacher. He teaches very clearly according to the needs of the people we teach. It was a blessing to teach at the chapel a lot this week, not just because it's more comfortable than being on the streets all day, but more so because I got to see how the people we teach feel the Holy Spirit. We're teaching the fiance of a returning member. She has severe anxiety but as she came into the chapel, she said she felt at peace. She loved the things we taught as it answered many questions she had. Even though we had not brought up baptism yet after the first lesson, she had already asked permission from both her parents! Before we invited her to attend sacrament meeting, she already said she wanted to come. Sure enough they were both already seated in the chapel when we arrived on Sunday!

I think eating the Laksa on Monday sparked a craving for more food from home, so I decided to cook curry from home.
 
I'm glad to say it tasted just like what I wanted :)

We had leftover rice from the curry so...
 
We made fried rice! It helped to clear out stuff from the fridge before the transfer ended.

Across all missions, zone training meetings are no longer done, and it's replaced by district meetings, which means one less meeting for large groups of missionaries to gather. However in our zone in Hyde Park, all of us have our district meetings in the same chapel anyway so we gathered after our own district meetings to have a zone council to set goals:
There probably won't be many more of these photos in future.

On Saturday, there was a baptism in another ward, and we wanted to invite one of our investigators to attend it with us. We called him only to find that he wanted to stop meeting with us due to personal problems. We were devastated. We continued talking with him on the phone and soon realised his concern was the commitment he had to make. He opened up and shared that throughout the week, he couldn't stop thinking about attending sacrament meeting and thinking about baptism. He tried to put his mind off it but couldn't. We encouraged him to listen to those feelings he felt. He knew the feelings was telling him that he should go to church on Sunday instead of work, and so he decided to act on it. Sure enough he came to church on Sunday! He felt like that is where he should be.

I'm just amazed by how sensitive this person is to the promptings from the Holy Ghost. Elder Andrews and I were talking about how we feel it so often that we become so used to it, but for others, they can feel the difference especially when they feel it the first time! Why doesn't this happen to everyone we teach? Having taught this person for 2 weeks, I personally find his heart most open than anyone I've ever taught. I think many times we all receive promptings and answers from the Holy Ghost, but we can only recognise it when our hearts are truly open to it. I'm grateful for what the experience of my investigator has taught me.

That's all I have this week. Here's something I thought looked quite funny while finding:
Barbed wires certainly does something to the image of of construction! :P

Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Chong


17 May 2017 
Transfer 8 Week 1

Hey everyone,

We had interviews on Monday, so P-day got pushed to Tuesday.

It's been a great first week of transfers. I'm glad I'm staying in London for another transfer, working here is really fun. Working with Elder Andrews again makes it even more fun!

Here's our district this transfer:

I'm serving around a Sister from Ipoh, Malaysia. What a small world! We also have a brand new Sister from Ukraine. She's hilarious even though she's not trying to. Being new she asks about everything, only it's in a very Russian way. She made remark in district meeting: "why do people think I'm angry whenever I ask a question?" I'm confident she'll be a great missionary, because she has the desire to learn.

Desire is a true game changer. We've been giving Alma 32 as a reading assignment to many of our investigators recently, to help them learn about faith and how it begins by first having a desire. As the weeks go by we begin to see those who have a true desire to find out if what we teach is true. Those who didn't have much of desire fall away, but those who stick with the desire start to develop faith in Jesus Christ, and it changes their lives!

To help give a morale boost, we went finding together with the sisters at Holland Park. It's been one of our favourite places to talk to people. Here's a picture at the end of it:

There are many nice things to see in the park, one of which are peacocks that roam around:

Perhaps it's the nice things around this particular park that make it so relaxing and enjoyable, that people seem to be more receptive to having a conversation.

Speaking of nice places, we passed by the "considerate construction" place while finding again. This time I took notice of the illustration on the board:

Elder Andrews and I took one look and immediately agreed which side is the reality we're living in :)

The cold air during winter somehow makes the city feel less dirty than it actually is, but as summer is approaching now, reality kicks in. I wasn't feeling too good at the end of the week. It's one of those awkward times where you're not at 100% capacity, but not bed ridden either. To motivate myself to get out, I tried using a 'Bak Kut Teh' sachet sent from home and made it in the morning...
Inline image 5

...and enjoyed it at the end of the day! It reminded me of how we would have either porridge or rice with soup whenever we were sick back home. The cool thing was I felt better the next day!

We found a way to get to the top of our flat:
We got a good view of what's behind our flat-- a construction site that makes studies in the morning difficult. It used the be the exhibition centre at Earl's Court, but now they tore it down and are doing something else with it. Sometimes when we're lucky, we get to spot foxes wandering around in the night.

It was nice to end of the week with mothers day and to call home. It wasn't mothers day here, but we did have stake conference. There were many great talks given. The stake president echoed what President Monson spoke about, which is the Book of Mormon. President Monson's talks are very simple and straight to the point, which makes it really easy for us to know what we need to do! The stake president challenged the stake to finish reading the Book of Mormon by the next stake conference, which is in 6 months time. He did some calculation and said it would mean reading only 3 pages a day! 3 pages a day sound really simple, but I know it makes a difference studying the Book of Mormon every day! I've seen what it can do for the people I teach, and I feel the difference in myself as I have done so!

Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


25 May 2017 
Transfer 8 Week 2

Hey everyone,

This will be a short email. I'll explain more next week about why it's late. But this picture sums up how the past week has been:
It has been a tiring week, mainly because we both weren't feeling too well. It's one of those times where you wake up each morning not feeling the best, but you know you're not so sick that you need to stay home. The effect I feel is that we had to work a lot harder to produce the same amount of work. What really kept me going is really the people we were seeing each day.

Last P-day we went to Camden Town: 
 
It felt like an English version of Chinatown to me. Lots of street food, lots of stuff to buy and haggle for. I didn't buy anything. I think life is so simple right now, it's very clear what I need and what I don't. Honestly though, in the thought process of whether to buy something or not right now, the thing that causes me not to buy stuff is thinking of how I'm going to carry it around for another year or so!

Anyway, the markets were interesting. It used to be a horse stable with stalls for horses. Now they're all replaced with stalls for merchandise. One of the people I've taught told me his grandfather used to own a horse and kept it here. It was great to finally have made it there to see what he was actually talking about.

Sunday was great (as always!). I felt that the lessons in Gospel Principles and Elders Quorum was perfect for one of our investigators. It was about a faith in Jesus Christ and the importance of testimonies, where many members basically shared how they gained their testimonies. We're trying to help that investigator make that leap of faith to be baptised right now. Among all the testimonies shared, it was clear that everyone receives answers differently, but in such a way that they all recognised it. What they all had in common though, was that they had a desire, and they did something about it, and had faith that they would receive an answer. It is exactly as promised by the prophet Moroni. (Moroni 10:4-5)

One last surprise from last week:


29 May 2017 
Transfer 8 Week 3

Hi Everyone,

So last Wednesday was P-Day for a few of us missionaries because we received permission to go watch The Lion King musical! It was really nice to listen to live a live orchestra and choir after so long. It wasn't as exciting since I already knew the story, but it was cool to see how they pulled of the scenes and puppets. President Stevens told us to spot out all the gospel connections. There were plenty!

We queued outside the box office early in the morning to buy the cheapest tickets. It was really sunny that day: 
They sell off the remaining tickets for the shows on that day at a flat cheap rate. So we got really good seats for a really good price. We were among the first 8 people there in the morning. As the queue grew longer and longer, Elder Andrews noticed that it was mostly Asians in the queue. I took the opportunity to explain what 'kiasu' means back home heheh.

We got our tickets at 10am and the show wasn't till 2.30pm so in between we went around town. One of the places we went to was Chinatown: 
 
It wasn't as big as I thought it would be. It was basically restaurants left and right so it smelled soooo good!

The rest of the week went pretty well. We brought one of our investigators to a few members' homes:

One of the members is a convert from Brunei. I got to enjoy some really delicious Malay food!
It was a really great blessing to be able to teach in the members' homes. Not so much because of the food, but because of the strength it added to our investigator. He was facing opposition from family and nearly wanted to stop coming to church, but with the help of members we were able to help him understand that living the gospel and keeping good relationships with family that are not members is possible. 

We had the opportunity to do some service this week. I never thought I'd be doing some gardening in London!

The pictures were taken halfway through. The whole garden was overrun with tall grass! I learned to use some pretty neat tools. Something I really appreciated was not having to deal with any mosquitoes unlike at home.

There have been quite a lot of delays in the trains here recently which was pretty annoying. They kept announcing at the stations that it was due to people on the tracks. However, we found out what was really the problem. As we were taking the train and it stopped at the next station, the train operator used the speakers on the train to reprimanded a man who just got on, telling him that he was standing too close to the platform and that the yellow line is there for a reason. He said that 2 people were already hit that day and they did not need a 3rd person to be hit. It became apparent that people were not standing behind the yellow line at the platform and probably fell or got pushed off. I guess life is like that as well. There are boundaries set by God for a reason. Failure to keep within those boundaries lead to negative consequences.

Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


6 Jun 2017 
Transfer 8 Week 4

Hi Everyone,

There's been lots of stuff going on in England, but I'm still safe. It feels like there are a lot more police around:

This week started of slow. Many people were interested to listen to us but were not willing to meet us again to learn more. It's kind of strange sometimes. We can do the same things we do and one day can go really bad, and one day can be really good. We didn't find anyone new to teach till Wednesday despite spending much time on the streets talking to people. Then on Thursday I went on exchange and found a good number of people for the missionaries in that area to teach. It's like I could help others but can't help myself!

While on exchange, we accidentally got separated at the train station:
It was strange being completely alone for a few minutes!

We had district meeting on Friday: 
It was difficult staying awake because it's been so warm and there aren't really any air-conditioners here.

I've had some food cravings recently. Luckily Elder Andrews is willing to join in:
 
 
He liked the fried dumplings and I liked the boiled ones.

Something else I tried was my all time favourite hor fun: 

It was a lot of effort but very worth it! :)

We had a really humbling experience at the end of the week. At the beginning if the week, one of our investigators felt that he should stop meeting with us and coming to church. We suspected it was due to opposition from his elder brother. We didn't want to put any pressure on him and respect his decision. So all we could do was pray and carry on. On Saturday, he wanted to meet with us again. We learned that his brother had a change of heart and now supports his decision and even warned him to make sure he can keep up with the high standards! That was a nice miracle to end off the week! To me, the miracle greater than mountains or seas splitting in half, is the hearts of people changing for the better.

I have to go now. Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong

P.S. I find that people here like to make things very official, even for rubbish:





13 Jun 2017 
Transfer 8 Week 5

Hi everyone,

The past week was awesome! 

On P-day, we went to to Hyde Park as a district to have a picnic together:


We all brought some food and it became a feast! I love it when there's something where everyone puts in a little effort that results in something great for everyone to enjoy.

After that we went to Italian Fountains...

As well as a place where we could feed birds peanuts.
 When they feel get really comfortable, then... 
If you notice, there are a lot of pigeons, and they did try to get some as well. We didn't let them. They're disgusting. One of them pooped on Elder Andrews haha.

One of the highlights of the week was zone conference:
The focus was on Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon. We'll be reading the Book of Mormon again as a mission. It'll be great!

It was very very windy last week... 
It was mostly fun. Sometimes I tried leaning against the wind. What's not fun is when stuff got into our eyes. All in all is was good because we didn't sweat much :)

A lovely blessing was that a member made us chicken rice! It was delicious! 
Something amazing we discovered was that there is a member in our ward who's Jewish! We've talked to some Jewish people on the streets before and it's very difficult. We thought it's impossible until we met this member. He member was really prepared back then and he was constantly with just the right people he needed. It's just so wonderful to see God's hand in doing this work. He is truly preparing people to receive the gospel. With God, nothing is impossible!

Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


20 Jun 2017 
Transfer 8 Week 6

Dear All,

Wow. It was the last week of the transfer and so many things happened! A nice way to end it off I would say! Well, what I mean are the many good things. There were many unfortunate things that happened as well.

For P-day, we went to Sky Garden! We had to book our free tickets to get up there 2 weeks ahead. I was really looking forward to this chance to see London from a skyscraper:




The view was magnificent! I hadn't been that high up in such a long time. One of our investigators was kind enough to lend us his camera. It was such a treat! The pictures here are obviously shrunk down.

As some of you may know, there was the burning of Grenfell tower. It just so happened that it was in my area. Because of it, about half the train stations in my area were closed. Which made it really difficult getting around. We were quite worried as some of our members lived there and we weren't sure if it was their building. It turned out they lived in the buildings next to it. We decided to go down there to take a look and to talk to people... 


One of our investigators asked about this and how it relates to God, basically the common question of why does God allow such things to happen. I thought about what I saw over there after the incident, where many people came out to help. There was far more food and donations of clothing made than needed. My answer was that sometimes bad situations brings out the good in people. I really felt that when I was there. One little blessing for us was that among the people we talked to, we found someone who met missionaries before. He was interested in meeting us again!

There were 2 special visits this week the first was:

A recent convert from Cambridge! It was so great to see him again! He came down to London without letting us know. It just so happened that I was in the chapel when he popped in. What a blessing!

The 2nd special visit was that of Elder Christofferson! He had some other business to attend to but made time to stop by the mission. 3 things stuck out to me that he taught. First is to learn from the examples of President and Sister Stevens. The second thing was his reminder to us of the authority we have to preach the gospel. The third thing was that we have been called to serve in this mission at this for a reason, not just for the people whom we will meet, but for what we are to learn. It was such a treat to hear from an apostle in person! We also took the opportunity to take a picture as a mission!
It has been getting really hot and humid over here. It feels just like Singapore if not worse. One of the nights was so warm we decided to camp out in the patio. 
It was really nice! I actually saw a shooting star!

Well, that's all I have the time to write about. Looking forward to a new transfer in a new place. Can't wait to talk about it next week!

Love,
Elder Chong

Special visit of LeRoy and Juliana Thong :




26 Jun 2017 
Transfer 9 Week 1

Hi Everyone!

I had my last P-day in London last week. We basically went to as many of the famous sites we could that I had not been to yet.


It was really hot and humid! So we didn't hang around. We simply took pictures and left. It wasn't pleasant being out there.
While we were out, we also got ourselves some spinners!
We were very picky about the quality of the spinners. After much testing, it just so happened that the ones that were good were white and yellow :P
That's about it! I'm quite sad to leave, but excited to move on as well...

So my new area is Luton!
On my first day there, it just so happen to be an extremely hot day. Buses felt like furnaces! I was told that it was the hottest day in England since 1976.
My new companion is Elder Egger from Austria:
He's my 3rd German speaking companion haha.

On my first day in Luton, we had a lesson with an investigator who only speaks Romanian and Spanish:
We taught using translations of the pamphlets as well as google translate. We could teach and get our questions across using the tools we had, but understanding his reponse was the problem. Luckily we have a few members in the ward who speak Spanish!

Someone we spoke to on the streets who has lived in Luton all his life described it as a 'little London'. I find it to be quite true. It's very busy and there are people from everyhwere. We live near town centre and there seems to always be a lot of stuff going on...
There's probably a lot of stuff going on because it's summer.
The physical geography of Luton is pretty interesting. There are 2 hills and a valley in between.

This picture doesn't do much justice, but I'll try to get a better picture.

The town centre is in the valley, and the chapel is on one of the hills. 2 of my companions have served in Luton before and they told me all about walking up the hill every day. Here I am doing the same thing. I'm probably going to get stronger calf muscles!

That's all I have. Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Chong


3 Jul 2017 
Transfer 9 Week 2

Dear All,

It's been a really fast week! Here are 2 things I see every single day in Luton:


Luton airport is close to where we live, so we see air planes every day. They fly really low!
Pigeons are nothing new. There's just too many of them here! I think I've said this before, but I don't like them. They're flying rats! I nearly got hit by some of them. There's also a strong sense of insecurity when they fly over my head. I have yet to be hit by their air raids. (fingers crossed)

Here's a more scenic view of Luton:


When moving here, I put all my warm clothing into a vacuum bag, thinking I'd only have to open in September... but I was wrong!

On Wednesday we had exchanges! It was in our area. On that day, I had fufu for the first time!

It was delicious! The member who made it for us is a pioneer from Zimbabwe. He shared some really amazing stories of the church back then. Going to church was a challenge. It took a lot of dedication just to go to church. He shared how he had to serve a 3 year mission in Zimbabwe. It was supposed to be 2 years but it got extended as they needed to wait for more missionaries to come. At first it was extended by 6 months, and at the end of it he wanted to go home, but the mission president asked to extend it another 6 months. He was a little disappointed at that time, but told us by the end of 3 years he didn't want to go home haha. When he left, there were only 6 missionaries in the mission, but right after he left, 20 missionaries from the States came in. As we now know, Zimbabwe is going to have a temple!

If I remember correctly, there is a documentary of President Hinckley that mentioned his visit to Africa. It just so happen that this brother was assigned to escort him around during his time in Zimbabwe. He was a witness of President Hinckley blessing Zimbabwe. At the end of his prayer, thunder clouds immediately began to appear and it rained, thus ending 2 years of famine! I felt the Spirit very strongly when he shared that experience.

As there wasn't enough space for 4 missionaries to exercise in the flat, we went out to the park nearby:



Till this day I still love playgrounds!

Sunday was really interesting. I was sandwiched between our Spanish speaking investigator and Chinese speaking investigator. I kept switching between communicating in Spanish (using google translator) on my left, and Chinese on my right (using the dictionary and pamphlets a lot). It was a lot of fun. It made me really grateful for the iPad once again. Earlier in the week, we had to teach someone who speaks Urdu and we did not have any pamphlets in Urdu in our flat, so we downloaded them onto our iPads! I miss serving in London where we can easily get stuff from the mission home, but I'm glad there are other ways to get around our problems.

We had dinner on Sunday with a Spanish speaking family together with our investigator. It was really fun learning a lot about other cultures. I'm serving in England but learning about everywhere else!


Their son was really good at lego, loved transformers, nerf guns and star wars... and also talked a lot. I couldn't help but laugh because I felt I was speaking to a little Spanish version of Elder Andrews, my previous companion.

Finally, this was the highlight of my week:

Back in London one of the people I taught was baptised by her husband. When I was younger, it seemed normal to me, I used to think "oh, that's great!" But now as a missionary, I know what actually goes on and the huge challenges people face as they strive to live the gospel. People often ask me what do I love most about serving a mission. My response is always that I love seeing conversion take place in the lives of others. It is just wonderful to see someone else experience the same joy I feel. I thought of D&C 18:15 when I heard this wonderful news. I really felt a piece of that joy mentioned in the scripture this week!

That's all I have!
Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Chong


11 Jul 2017 
Transfer 9 Week 3

Dear All,

It has been a bittersweet week all in all, but still more sweet than bitter nonetheless!


I've been trying to figure out what to do here in Luton on P-days. There's a drastic difference between here and London in terms of things to see and do haha. Here's what we did last week:

There's a huge park right outside the chapel and there seems to be some rather interesting totems here that they make out of dead trees. It reminded me of the giant bench they made in Bletchley.
It was a hot day so we got some milkshakes and ice cream. Elder Egger loooovesss ice cream!

On Tuesday we helped one of our investigators enrol into a free English class at the library. While helping him find a dictionary we noticed something very familiar!

 We wondered how the Book of Mormon and triple combination got there so we took a closer look...
It was donated by one of President Hinckley's grandsons! He served right here in Luton in 2010!

On Wednesday, I taught the gospel in Chinese for the very first time! It took a lot of effort preparing, but it was all worth it. I probably experienced the gift of tongues for a very small moment while teaching. I felt so comfortable teaching it as if I had always been teaching in Chinese. It felt great!

Thursday was officially my one year mark! Here's how I celebrated it:
Cheap chicken with sparkling apple juice! :) Not something fancy but, I just love fried chicken haha.

It's crazy how one year flew by so quickly. I've learned so much about the gospel, about life and about myself. The time I've spent out here has certainly helped me have a better idea of how I would want to fit all 3 together after the mission.

Friday was zone conference! The focus was on repentance. It always impresses me how simple and easy it is to understand the gospel, yet how deep we can go when studying and learning specific principles. I am truly grateful for the divine gift of repentance!
Here's a picture from zone conference:
Having been out a year, many of the people I love are going home. Zone conference was the last time I would see them on the mission. That's what made this week bitter. I don't know when I'll ever see them again, but I have confidence that they will do well in life. Many of those I know are either converts or were less actives who decided that repentance was the right thing to do. They are such powerful examples to me of what someone can become when one truly repents.
When we first come into the mission, we signed our names and where we're from on this poster pictured above. I had not seen it for a year. It was so much more crowded than before! There are literally missionaries from everywhere! During conference, I met a missionary from Dubai! As I stood there looking at all the names and places, I just thought it was cool. I cannot think of anything else in the world than can unite people from all over the world. The restored gospel is really spreading throughout the world. I get a glimpse of that as a missionary. It's so amazing. There are many challenges but the Lord's work will not be hindered! We're seeing many miracles happening in the mission!

We did some service this week!
Before:
 After:

There were tons of snails. We'd be walking around cutting the grass and randomly feeling this "crack" and "squish" feeling under our shoes haha. For the first time in my life, I got stung by this plant called stinging nettle. It's nasty!

The reason why this email is later than usual is because we had interviews on Monday. It was so strange but nice to see President and Sister Stevens so soon.They are really such amazing people! I have no idea how they remember and know personally so many missionaries.

A member got us a giant Costo pizza for dinner!

I think my metabolism is slowing down. I was able to eat 2 slices last year. This time it was 1 slice... getting old! :)

Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Chong

It is noted in his letter that he celebrated July 7 as his 1 year mark to have completed a year on his mission. His 2nd year's missionary letters home will continue and another new post.


Scroll up above to view the post of Elder Chong's latest weekly letter home that has been recorded in the blogpost  (Click here to jump to the top or beginning of this blog post.)



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