Monday, December 22, 2008

Jerry's Conversion

I first met the missionaries through my classmate who was not a member of the church. My classmate, my brother, and I went to DeliFrance (cafe) every Sunday evening while we chatted with the missionaries in English, since it was more a one-on-one and effective way to learn English. Although we went through many pairs of elders, trust and friendship was established. A pair of Elders gave me a Book of Mormon during Christmas (1998). Upon walking home, when asked by my classmate, “Are you ever gonna read it?” I said, “No.” It was the first BOM I threw away before I arrived home that night.

Elder Bell first brought me to the senior missionaries’ English class, which was my first time to go to an LDS church’s building. After about a year, since the public exam was done, we stopped contacting the missionaries.

About a few months later, I wanted to learn English again and found Elder Bell, who was the AP at that time, serving in the mission office. (The Hong Kong Temple has a chapel and the mission home within the same building.) After visiting, Elder Bell and his comp taught me the “first discussion” at the visiting lobby of the HK Temple. The Spirit was strong and I felt it, although I didn’t know what the Spirit was at that time. I got the BOM again and sincerely read 3 Nephi 11. I called and left a message at the mission office. For some reason, I never heard back from them. The BOM was put on my book shelf. One day cleaning up our home, my mom asked, “Are you ever gonna read it?” “No,” I replied. It was the second time I threw the BOM away.

A few months later, I saw a pair of elders doing GQ on the street, (GQ=Golden Questions=street contacting). Among all the people passing by, brushing them off, I had the same feeling I felt in the temple. That feeling drove me to them, Elder Wong and his comp.

This time is different…. I have always been a “question boy,” who asks many deep questions in whatever I learn in class. Many questions like, “How can people be made out of dirt?” “Where is the exact physical location of heaven?” I mean, come on, how can those US missionaries explain all this in Cantonese? Elder Wong was a HK native. Within two weeks, the Lord sent another native to the area, Elder Lai. (Notice it was a miracle; because of the hard language, it was rare that two natives served together.) Without language barriers, many of my questions were answered.

I still remember the first time I knew the BOM was true. It was a quiet night; and I was alone at home. After reading it for 30 mins that night (I had been reading it daily for two months), I knelt and prayed, and prayed for a few mins. Suddenly a strong feeling came to my heart and mind. I knew it. I knew it was true.

I was baptized by Elder Wong and confirmed by Elder Lai on Feb 13 and Feb 20, 2000.

Now…, would you like to hear my mom’s conversion story…??? She was Buddhist all her life. Later..., I baptised her…. Well, before boring you, I will tell you next time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Exam Week of My Dreams

There may have been moments of confusion in times past regarding the author identity for one post or another on this blog. You may have discerned my British National-Asian Sweetheart uses alternative spellings for words (which is my one of my "favourites" about him, as a case in point) but just to celestialize our blog a bit more, I decided to take action and research how to identify different authors for different posts. Cheers for blogger for being so user-friendly...Problem solved! I am now able to post as myself, and cute Husby is able to post as himself. He even drafted a story from his life which should be coming soon. Yes. Be excited.

In the meantime, allow yet another musing from myself, the Champion of Finals Week. Somehow I managed to have only two final exams total for the end of this semester, both of which are accomplished as of today. I also have one 5 minute presentation which I will do tomorrow morning. After that, no more...! What an anticlimactic end to my favorite semester ever. Makes me feel like I have really gotten the hang of it, though. Gotten the hang of school, that is. After a decade and a half of formal schooling, I have officially figured out how to research all the best teachers, obtain all the best classes, and align myself with all the best study buddies. I also learned how to release myself from the bonds of procrastination, which only lasted one semester, incidentally not the current one, but at least now I know I am capable of being 100% on top of stuff if I really choose to be. And the nostalgic feelings will continue to come over the next few months, I'm sure, as I enter Winter Semester 2009--my last six credits of undergrad work. Who knows what will come next.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Worth the 4 Minutes

Maybe it was just because my frazzled, end o' semester brain was in dire need of some peace and perspective, but today I watched this music video and it brought me to tears. What a grateful heart I have, knowing God sent His beloved Son to bring peace to this troubled world. My greatest times of joy have come through feeling the love of Christ enter my heart, as I begin to see others through His eyes. He lived and died a perfect being, and still He lives today, my Savior and my king.

I also got a really good feeling, the kind that makes my heart beat fast and my hands clasp in front of my chin, from reading the religious freedom ad posted in the New York Times by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (link at right). If you don't want to get to it through the LDS newsroom, here is the direct link:

And here is the direct link for the beautiful video mentioned above, because it was my first time to try posting a video and apparently it is more difficult than all you avid bloggers have led me to believe.

It is about 4 minutes long, and worth every bit of it. Created by BYU alum and faculty--way to go, wonderful school! Jerry and I thank God every day to be here. We are privileged to attend.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


We are grateful for: horsies, sunshiney mountain days, the Man from Snowy River movie (because its theme song kept matching our ride), and a special thank you for Dad, who worked hard to make our trail ride perfect.

During one day of Thanksgiving break, we went up near the family property in Lowman, Idaho for a good journey up the trail. With a few of our cousins joining in, we got 7 horses lined up. Jerry did great riding the mustang Garnet, especially for it being only his second time on a horse! He kept a brave smile through all the trotting, and remained a good sport even with several mishaps including: a saddle that slid sideways on him, mismatched stirrup lengths (turns out he got the broken saddle), borrowed sneakers (not boots), and a saddle-sore rear end for the next several days.

On the plus side, we can all applaud Jerry's uncanny skill with a camera. He took this cute shot of Titan and me while riding in front of us. He twisted his torso in the saddle and stretched his arm out behind him with the camera aimed in my general direction. Voila!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Chinese Thanksgiving

We heard the Chinese Ward was having a big dinner this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving. Since we are technically not part of the Chinese ward, we brainstormed how to legitimately attend and thereby feast in the joys of Chinese culture and also eat all that good food. We decided to invite one of our friends, James, who is Chinese, to go to the dinner with us. While he is not yet a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, James fit right in with the happy crowd that night and seemed to have a lot of friends there. Way to be social, James! He won a doorprize: a pumpkin. He let me bake a pie from it yesterday--and apparently it was delicious, because he phoned later that day to say he and his roommates had finished it off so I could go pick up the empty pan.

The day after the ward activity Jerry took James to the MTC where they volunteered to be taught by missionaries learning Chinese. Guess who was there! Elder Brandon Steele! Jerry felt so grateful to see him, and even snapped a quick picture--but didn't have a chance to chat, of course, as the missionaries were all pretty wrapped up in their work. Only about one more week and then Elder Steele, with the rest of his district, depart for their respective areas all around the world.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Job!

Jerry landed his first "real" career recently. He keeps trying to be humble about it, but let's all remember what the business world looks like these days. We feel really grateful the Lord has smiled upon us. Only a dozen or so applicants out of seven hundred were accepted for this particular position. Jerry is enrolled in Avery's rotation training program (GOLD = Global Operation Leadership Development program), meaning they will train him in different areas of the company. His first training will be about Lean Processing (supply chain). Then about one year later, they will rotate him into another position, for example engineering, so that he can learn different things in a short period of time. After 2 or 3 rotations, they will assign him a management position. The starting salary is above BYU Business school's average.
Next time you lick a US postage stamp and smile at the delectable taste, thank Avery--it is the contracted provider. The company deals with most types of adhesives, even the reflective sticky stuff that covers street signs and license plates. They also make stationary, labels, commercial product labels, protective outer layers on cars, and so forth. Check out the website if you are interested in the new world of Jerry: . Avery-Dennison is a Fortune 500 company.

We are not sure yet about the location for his position, because he will fly out to several different plants to make sure he gets a good fit. This company does have plants in Asia, including Hong Kong, but we will be in the US for at least the next few years. Avery will wait for Jerry to graduate of course, so we get to stay in Provo at least until May or so of 2009.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Retracting a Previous Statement

A couple weeks back we remarked on our dislike for turkeys. We now have to say, since one of the most adorable little gobblers (pictured above) has become part of our family, turkeys aren't so bad!
We won this huge hand puppet--approx. $50 value--at the bookstore's Christmas preview night yesterday. The store was full of news cameras, crowds of stampeding customers, and free prizes galore. We got quite a handful of free items, but will not detail them here, as some will be given out as gifts for Christmas...! We plan to whip out Mr. Turkey Puppet at our Thanksgiving visits with family. Be excited boys and girls!

Monday, November 3, 2008


I have started to hear rumors of Christmas in the air. It began with the playing of Christmas music the day after Halloween. Then, five minutes ago I discovered one of my friends has finished putting up Christmas decorations in every room of her house, complete with color scheme and all. My first instinct was to say, "Wow. Early." But then I glanced behind me and had to sheepishly acknowledge the wrapped Christmas gifts I taped and ribboned-up just last night.

These presents are simple--kazoos, chocolates, a clip-on tie--and are getting sent to Australia tomorrow, to make sure little brother going there for his missionary service gets the package in time. The postal worker told me last week (with a frantic look in his eyes): "To Australia?! Send it as soon as possible! You never know with customs!" So pre-Halloween Christmas shopping began. Jerry had the idea of sending a clip-on tie, because he feels indebted to his clip-on for its habit of helping him be punctual. A regular tie, he has explained, is nearly impossible to don while driving down the road. A clip-on, in contrast, can be snapped with ease while the steering wheel gets briefly managed by some body part other than the hands.

Second Admission of Christmas Planning: A few weeks ago for a Family Home Evening activity, Jerry and I assembled Christmas boxes to send to soldiers. We donated them through a campus-wide service project. We felt cheery while we wrote Christmas greetings to unknown faces far across the world. We included small games, craft kits, toys, candies and clipped stories to send from past issues of the December Ensign. We kept our costs low, but got creative and overall felt pleased by our humble contribution. Project Uplift occurs every October at BYU, so keep an eye out next year if it sounds like something you'd like to do!

Forgive the lack of Halloween posting. Christmas, here we come!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Turkey, anyone?

Jerry just spent a few minutes reviewing our pictures from the recent zoo trip. As he examined the turkeys I'd photographed in all their autumn glory, he commented, "Turkeys are gross. I don't think I want to eat them anymore." We will remind Jerry of those sentiments come November 27th...But I have to agree. Turkeys are vile creatures, with propensity to eat all sorts of garbage if they find access. Their featherless heads remind me of vultures or some other type of carrion eater. The Bear picture was taken by Jerry. He has a good eye for opportune moments, and caught the bear's thin pink tongue flicking out for a sip of water. Giraffes were Jerry's favorite, because he wooed them close enough to touch their furry heads with his fingers. Giraffes have purple tongues as long as my forearm.

Friday, October 24, 2008

One more reason

There are different types of understanding. Spiritual, intellectual, and cultural facets are just a few of the lenses through which to understand other people, events, and issues. Have you ever had an understanding in just one area, and then felt enriched by expanding that understanding to other realms as well? In a recent post I remarked on my spiritual acceptance of the need to support Proposition 8. While gaining my own spiritual understanding of the need to protect marriage was a fulfilling process, I have found my resolve to promote Prop. 8 strengthened by learning legal and cultural implications as well. I now have a cultural understanding of the need to protect marriage as it is currently defined, between a man and a woman.

If the US government accepts same-sex marriages as equal to heterosexual marriages, the schools, businesses, churches, and other organizations of society will eventually be pressured to accept same-sex marriages, or be severely penalized for failure to do so. For example, imagine Proposition 8 fails. If I am a public school teacher reviewing sex-ed with my fourth grade class, I would now have to teach the children that homosexual acts are normal and okay, if they feel so inclined. If I am a church who rents facilities for marriages, I would suddenly have to allow gay marriages to be performed in the church or risk expensive lawsuits for my "discrimination."

The movement pressuring the US culture to accept homosexuality is understandable to some degree--what if I had a significant part of my lifestyle persecuted or inhibited? I would feel terrible.

But wait! That is exactly what will happen to the majority of the US population if proposition 8 is overturned; their heterosexual family lifestyle and moral beliefs WILL be persecuted and inhibited. Civil rights groups are even now straining at their leashes to begin taking legal action against any entity who discriminates against same-sex marriages. Visualize cultural violence. Visualize the lifestyle of a fundamentalist, faithful follower of Jesus Christ being ridiculed for his or her beliefs. It is happening already.

But also visualize protection. "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." --Ephesians 6:12-13

Protect religious freedom, protect parental rights, protect the culture of faith and duty to God on which the United States was founded. Vote YES on Proposition 8! Encourage others to do the same.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today I came home from class with rather a frowning countenance--call it the predictable result of midterms and lack of sleep. But as it is Thankful Thursday, I found a lot of blessings to count. My number one favorite blessing: good neighbors. We live in a community of saints, where everyone helps each other with joyful abandon.

One example is the communal sharing of children. Two of those pictured are straight from Mexico. Their mother entered the MBA program this semester, which takes 90+ hours per week, and their father is employed outside the home for a portion of each day, so various ward members split up the shifts and the kids get tended. Today was their day at our home, and we also managed to reserve the kids for next Thursday, when we will take them to an on-campus children's Halloween party! I remember feeling wistful last Halloween when I walked by the party on campus and realized you had to have children to be admitted. So borrowing a few kids this year is my strategic plan to crash the bash.

The third child pictured recently moved here from Korea with his family. We met him on the playground. Then, at his invitation, we invaded his home to check out his famous magnet toy which, he assured us, promised crazy amounts of fun. We had fun indeed, and his mother--in true Korean hospitality--even gave us all a snack and a couple sacks of potatoes to take with us on our journey out the door. (I know, potatos seem a little random, but what kind of Idaho girl could resist such an offering? They are even caked with dirt in the manner of freshly dug tubers)

At one point I started grasping for ideas of kid-friendly activities in our non-child-oriented home, so I whipped out a few rags of fabric from my quilting pile and tried to get the kids to dance with their fabric pieces. They appeased me for a good 30 seconds before deciding to tie the fabrics on each other's heads like blindfolds. Then they staggered around the room with dizzy blindness, laughing like cherubs.

Probably those of you who have children grace your home on a regular/permanent basis find these anecdotes unremarkable--but to Jerry and me, each moment brought new surprises and a constant smile to our lips.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Proposition 8

I like to think of myself as an activist--someone who stands up for what I believe is morally sound, regardless of opposition. However, I had to pray for desire to join the movement for Proposition 8. I have friends and acquaintances who either term themselves "gay" or say they have "same gender attraction." I love these friends, and want their happiness. A portion of my morals says, "Let them use their agency, and learn from the consequences--just stay out of all this fervor."

But as I prayed for how to reconcile these feelings with the clarion call of my church leaders to defend Proposition 8, I felt an empowering realization: Aside from having a moral obligation to allow for agency of others, another part of my personal moral belief calls for protection of the sacred.

Sacred means, in one dictionary definition, something holy that must be "secured against violation, infringement, etc., as by reverence or sense of right." Marriage, as an institution given by God, holds the title "sacred" in my mind. If marriage becomes allowed to describe unions not sanctioned by God (i.e. same gender unions), the term will have been "violated." Therefore, I feel a motivation to secure this institution against infringment, and urge others to do the same.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

All Creatures Great and Small

My highschool friend Trina lives close by, so we try make it out to see her once in awhile. Little brother Davey, Mom, Jerry and I all joined Trina and her two young'uns for a jaunt around Hogle Zoo. Highlights:

Jerry managed to get a free ice cream cone without even asking (his charisma amazes us all).

AND we stayed in the zoo 4 minutes past closing time so we could hunt down the kangaroo for Elder Steele. He's headed for Australia in just two months now, and seems pretty well adjusted to the MTC. Thanks all for the letters, packages and help you have given him!

General Conference

Every October and April, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a world-wide broadcast conference. We tuned in to all four sessions over this past Saturday and Sunday. If you missed any of it, look it up at You can listen to the most recent conference using MP3, and later will be able to access video and text archives. Every speaker brings a feast of wisdom, hope, and spiritual strength. Here are a few points from one "Tam Fam Favorite:"

Elder L. Tom Perry, pictured above, shared some intimate stories from his earlier years. During a period when he faced struggles in employment and his wife was deathly ill, he identified with Henry David Thoreau in seeking spiritual strength through a simplified lifestyle. During this trial, the Perrys would either walk around Walden Pond together, or if Sister Perry's energy waned too much on a given day, the two sat on their car amid the calming pond scene and reflected together.

We have goals to have a simplified lifestyle through following Elder Perry's counsel. He said Thoreau's basic "four needs" could be examined in a spiritual sense:

1. Food: Get regular exercise, quality sleep, and eat a healthy diet; remain free from harmful addictions. Elder Perry cited Doctrine & Covenants 88-89 and the For Strength of Youth pamphlet. The Tams have renewed the goal to get to bed early! Of course we are already impeccable with regards to diet and exercise...

2. Shelter: Let provident living touch your housing plans. Courtney put this plan into effect right away, by picking up a free wall hanging at Deseret Book Store's ladies' night event. Our living room furniture and decor now totals a $20 expenditure overall, and feels rather complete.

3. Clothing: Very casual dress almost always leads to casual manners. Profound to consider how modesty is more than just covering up. We will strive to have gracious actions and speech.

4. Fuel: Spiritual fuel comes through acquiring knowledge of God's plan and surrendering to His will. We build our spiritual reserves daily through prayer as a family, studying the scriptures together, and working to follow the promptings of our inner moral compass.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Courtney here: this entry is a personal indulgence, rather than the usual TamFam adventures this blog is meant to record. I mentioned awhile back wanting to do some blogging regarding my own spiritual and intellectual quest, but that blog, while in full swing, is actually a forum for a whole writing group; accordingly, we post drafts of all stages in multitudinous volume. Thus, for the benefit of people with limited time, here is one excerpt from It is a composed observation, in which I spent about 15 minutes recording empirical knowledge within a 4 inch frame of reference. I recommend the activity to anyone seeking a meditative moment in her day.

4x4 Inch Square

The second one today--a lifeless preying mantis catches my attention, and I squat like a toddler to peer at it more closely. It has gone to a final repose on its back, with twiggy limbs bent at odd angles. These limbs seem to form a protective arch above the hollowed belly below them. But all inner clockworkings of this little fellow are now either dry and rattling or sucked gone. His skin surface, a simple shell jacket for now-empty innards, reflects a light amber hue. A tawny autumn leaf resting near his head seems painted from the same palette. My eyes blink appreciatively at nature's color coordination.A sidewalk forms his backdrop, and I note how the pale gray cement accessorizes itself with a curving crack, forming dark gray angles to cross beneath the center of the mantis abdomen. I shiver when a breeze makes my cheek feel cool. This moving air holds strong enough force to transport the mantis. I watch as the breeze moves him about half an inch forward, sliding his dry outer membrane which makes scratching sounds as it stirs. His head has now slid to touch a portion of the sidewalk marred by a purple stain. The blot has a circular shape which, when positioned behind the mantis head, resembles a two-dimensional halo, like the ones behind faces of saints in medieval tapestries. But I have never been one to promote insects to sainthood, and the head seems even less regal now that I notice the antenna springing from it. The little feelers have become attached to the crusty yellow leaf somehow; this remnant of tree and bit of insect cling together in their mutually dehydrated state. I have realized now he is not dead, but has just shed his exoskeleton.
Author's note: I remember playing with these bugs as a kid. More recently in my adult life, I saw a preying mantis and tried to hold it in my hand for old times' sake--but a shuddering, involuntary reaction made my hand jerk away at the last moment. What changed? I'm still not sure, but chalk it up to one more lost element of childhood innocence.
Second thought: In the Incheon, Seoul Korea airport, I noticed a woman with a few bags at her feet. She stood akimbo, in a manner suggesting solemn sentry in the midst of rushing crowds. As we neared her apparent post of duty, the object of her protection became apparent: a preying mantis was meandering between her feet, and she evidently had intentions of keeping the small life from getting crushed by heedless travelers. I wonder now if she contemplated picking up the insect to move it to safety--but then she might have experienced the same aversive reaction I had in attempting to touch a mantis with grown-up fingers.
Final Addendum: I do not have the citation for the mantis photo above. Sorry; all I can say is, I did not take it myself. I got it from some random place online and do not recall where. Charming though, isn't it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend Report

"For there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.." -2 Nep. 2:14

Stewart Falls This past weekend we had an Honor's writing retreat up at Aspen Grove. Our own paradise, just a 30 minute drive from our apartment. The maples and aspens had just started edging into their autumn glory.


Our little man entered the Missionary Training Center (MTC) this past Wednesday! Highlights from the send-off: Eating an authentic Chinese lunch (Jerry is the expert chef) with Dad, Mom, Elder Steele, Cousin Sara Anne, and her babies, Marshall & Luke; walking Elder Steele over to the MTC; watching the glow on Elder Steele's face as he viewed some LDS Church Commercials; getting to coach him on the first time he put on that black name tag! We are so thrilled for him to keep working on his Mandarin. Anybody who wants to write him, please do. He will be at the MTC until the first week of December.
Try using, or snail mail. Here is the mailing address for the next few months:
Elder Brandon Steele
MTC Mailbox 187
AST-BRI 1202
2005 N 900 E
Provo UT 84604
The AST-BRI stands for Australia Brisbane, and the 1202 stands for his estimated departure date to Australia (December 2nd).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend Report

For date night on Friday, we made an excursion to the local shopping mall in search of Chinese attire to wear to a 中秋節 (Mid-Autumn Festival) activity. Faithful readers of this blog may recall the unfortunate occurrence in a Hong Kong marketplace recently, which disturbed us so thoroughly as to prevent our purchasing a shirt while on our trip. However, prices at the mall proved more unsettling than feisty HK market girls, so we decided to hold off on the Chinese shirt purchase until next time we go to Asia.

The date night fun renewed itself when we glimpsed a fire, juggler?...while on our drive home from the mall. We halted the car, did a quick U-turn, and visited the fire dancer's bohemian art gallery. Who knew Provo had such things?
On Saturday, Jerry demonstrated how his many skills extend to simultaneous cookie frosting and sno-cone eating. We were at an autumn social for our apartment complex.

He also found amusement that morning in chronicling my addiction to checking email. The delight on my face is completely unfeigned, as I sat oblivious to the clicking of his camera shutter. Karen, I think that ridiculous grin came from reading your email regarding the activity on Saturday--we are so glad you could come!! The activity was the mid-autumn festival everybody, and we forgot our camera, but it was amazing! Lanterns, Chinese dancers, food, and games galore. I learned a few martial art moves at one booth. Thanks Chinese Ward for the great time!

Lastly, while making some bread on Sunday (one of my twice-yearly attempts), I noticed the flour gathering in sharp patterns on the outside of the measuring cup. It looked just like the iron filings I used to play with sometimes in the garage while growing up (we had a welder). Some kind of bizarre magnetic attraction created by the slick plastic flour bag. And we promise that is the end of trivial weekend reports.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One-Year Wedding Anniversary

This might be the last post regarding our trip to Hong Kong... I sense a need to wrap it up on the blog (scrapbooking for it, on the other hand, may continue well into my nursing home days). Our final night of the trip happened to be our first wedding anniversary. The Tams know how to make a good meal, and this one proved to be my favorite of the whole trip (er, maybe I was just getting a little more comfortable with the cuisine in general).

2nd Aunt & Uncle came over, as did the aforementioned neighbor, Jeff, and Mom, Dad, and Henry were also there, of course. We had some of those famous creamy Chinese cakes for dessert--one mango, one chestnut--and even bottles of milk to drink. The milk in HK comes in small glass containers, and frequently during the trip I found myself getting tricked by it--some is fresh, "normal" milk, but other varieties list water, milk solids, and half a dozen mysteries as their main ingredients. I was none too thrilled about noticing halfway through drinking one jar of milk that it was not what I first assumed it was. The milk in the photo is "normal." I double-checked. "Glass jar milk" is one Hong Kong item Jerry misses while in the states, so we washed these two jars and brought them back with us in our suitcases.

We received several gifts for our anniversary (thanks, everyone!) and one of our favorites is from a cousin in Hong Kong: a pair of crystals with our photos imprinted on them. We will use one of the crystals for a cherished Christmas tree decoration, probably. But hey--who's thinking of Christmas before Halloween?

Actually, the next holiday in mind is Mid-Autumn Festival. We are going to a party this weekend to celebrate it. That is one benefit of a bi-cultural family: twice as many holidays!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

And more crowds

Being surrounded by countless hurrying bodies doesn't matter much--but the sweat, dust, and trash produced by those bodies can make a nightly shower feel like heaven.

This intersection photo cannot begin to do justice to the thrilling traffic paths meandering through Hong Kong. But we included the shot because it shows a man wheeling a cart (see him there, right off the curb?) and a few minutes earlier someone wheeled one of those precarious loads right through the middle of a rush of vehicles. I held my breath as taxis and double-decker busses whizzed by the cart and its handler. He dodged and weaved, and eventually made it across. HK public transportation vehicles heed not any pedestrian who dares encroach on vehicle territory. Cross-cultural comparison: in Utah, pedestrians tend to assume cars will yield to them, and thus jaywalk at all kinds of odd moments to find that yes indeed, cars often slow and halt if the driver sees a would-be street-crosser. But in Hong Kong I received strict instruction within minutes of stepping off the plane: Don't expect cars to stop for you. Sure enough, I nearly got ran over, suitcases in hand, as we walked toward the Tam apartment that first evening--and so another instruction came forth: Refrain from blindly following Jerry's mom or dad across the street. Apparently they know tricks about dodging vehicles that I have yet to learn.


I tend to instinctively think of cities with large populations as places of diversity, but Hong Kong utilized me as its token white girl on more than one occasion. Make sure to feel a bit of awe while taking in the density of this every-day crowd.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Meeting up with long-time friends

Jeff (細東), in the middle, is a friend that I grew up with, since about age 6. I can't even remember how we met. Well..., it's too long ago. We did many crazy things as teenages, including linking a rope between two sky-scrapers (on the 15th floor,) using a plastic-bag "kite."

Hanging out at arcade centers was our favourite thing to do as kids. The last night of the Hong Kong trip, Jeff, Henry, and I went down to the nearby arcade center to relive our childhood memory.

Courtney got to practice a bit of Mandarin on the trip. Our friends Cindy and her husband Poon Dong Man helped Courtney with her Chinese during this dinner gathering. Other friends pictured in this shot all hail from the original singles ward where Jerry was baptized.

Gary (?明), Don (無良), Bear-bear, Chris (嘉華) were my high school buddies, who were my confidantes. We worked hard for our exam and certainly we played and laughed hard too. It was nice to see them again in HK after 7 years of separation. Bear-bear said (to me), "You still look fit, except your belly!"

We went to a Korean BBQ with Mom, Dad, and my first bishop from the original singles ward where I was baptized. Bishop Chin is a great spiritual mentor, and we found out he also is well-informed on the US presidential candidates. (Courtney did some research on Sarah Palin when we got home--thanks for the heads up, Bishop!)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ocean Park Continued...

Ocean Park was a highlight of the whole trip! Cable cars helped us rise above the jungle-heat below.

Jerry enticed me to go see the pandas by saying, "they are really entertaining to watch, compared to other zoo animals that just lay there, since 90% of the day pandas eat and play and move all around." That statistic might be less than scientifically accurate, or else we apparently got to the Panda family during one of their rare evening naps. All five draped themselves in various positions across their enclosures. Granted, they are incredibly adorable even while dozing.