Friday, September 24, 2010

The Every Day Branch

Sorry no pictures only talking. We had an interesting experience last week as we were asked to speak in the everyday branch. So let me try to explain. They have a lot of domestic workers that work in Hong Kong, mainly Filipino. They work for next to nothing and their employers only give them one day off a week, they don't really have a say when that day is. So to try and allow them to attend church on their day off they have two senior missionary couples run church every day. Church starts at 1:00 with sunday school, 2:00 is relief society, and 3:00 is Sacrament meeting. So you go to church tuesday through saturday and give the same talk everyday because it is always different people there. Peter chose to give different talks each day, I did not. It was interesting to take the sacrament every day and spend that time reflecting on the Savior in a meaningful way everyday. I think my talk was almost perfected by the last day!!

The Fire Dragon Dance

We had a most pleasant night out with some of our favorite people the Linford's. We attended the local Moon festival that includes a 120 year old tradition called the fire dragon dance.
It probably took about an hour for them to get the dragon all lit. It was smoky and smelly as it is all incense sticks that they stick on this long dragon like thing. It took about 15 people to hold it up and dance through the streets with it.

This would probably not be allowed in Canada or the US as they send this smoking, hot dragon running and dancing down narrow streets full of spectators. They actually have like bouncers that run beside and when they get to close to the spectators they just kind of push them back into the road.
It was an interesting event one of which included sore eyes and a sore throat from all the smoke!

Mid Autumn Festival

The Lantern display is fabulous with all the lights and shapes, the pictures really don't do it justice. They had about six different peacocks all in different colors, with flower lanterns around and all the little lanterns strung in the background.

The dragon lanterns were amazing, they are cloth painted, stretched over frames and then lit up.

The mid autumn festival or lantern festival has many good and fun things about it and some "yucky " things such as mooncake. The traditional mooncake has this lotus seed egg yolk center which was not my favorite. It is also a tradition to eat lots of kinds of fruit. Lanterns are carried by children and the local park has a huge display of lanterns.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Kadoorie Farms for the Grand Kids

We had a request for a few animals. Of course you need a photo of your Grand Parents first and then a few from the wilder kingdom.

Kadoorie Farms

Well if you know anything about what we are doing here, this adventure should ring a bell in your mind. Read this quote on charity.

In 1951, Lawrence and Horace Kadoorie identified about 300,000 refugees who were farmers, that were unable to provide for themselves. These brothers purchased a large hillside (The largest mountain in HK)to provide a location to assist these Hakka people in their pursuit for self reliance. They raised pigs and chickens, grew large gardens of vegetables which are terraced across these hills. They also setup micro loans that the banks wouldn't support to help the people get started in taking care of themselves.

This is now an absolutely beautiful hillside of flower gardens with flowing streams of water running throughout. We had a wonderful morning with the Linfords enjoying what has been created.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Alive and Beautiful

The flowers really are amazing in all of Asia but these pictures are from Vietnam. Inside arrangements like these two in the hotel lobbies are always real and fabulous. The others are just a few of the flowers we saw in our wandering.

Ho Chi Minh Branch

We really enjoyed church with the Jackson's. The wall you see is being built on a home near the church. The guy apparently does this cement work by hand, the Jackson's said that they just had to stand and watch one day because they were so amazed.The church is a duplex style house they have converted into a chapel. The group of young men are the Elder's Quorum Presidency and the last group is everyone that showed up at institute class. They were wonderful people. Oddly enough that day their were visitors in the Branch from the US, we quickly connected them to people we new in common. Cindy Irwin was their aunt which of course makes Jesse Bourne the cousin, also related to the Haliday's in Medicine Hat, and they new Marcy Ellingson, it really is a small world!!

Area of Amusing

You have to love it when they translate Vietnamese to English. These are the Cu Chi Tunnels. During the Vietnam war the people of Cu Chi were driven underground to survive. They dug three levels of tunnels- 3, 6 and 9 meters deep. The tunnels run for ever about 250 km. They were setup with traps, hospitals to care for the injured and kitchen areas that would disipate the smoke. During the night they would come out and kill or steal food and then return underground. The US built their base right above and beside the tunnels. The US bombed and used agent orange to try to deal with the foliage trying to find the people. Because "agent orange" effects the DNA there are still children being born with defects from this war gas.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Mushroom Project

Just to give a glimpse into the work we are involved in. This project is located just outside of Hanoi. There are 16 communes of about 5000 people in each, that live on about $20 USD per family per month. In working with partners, we are creating a series of mushroom growing operations that will allow 3 of these communities to increase their family income to about $100 USD per month. Not much but five times what they are generating today. In this kick off meetings the room was filled with the community. Speeches were given by church, government and local community leaders. They will be trained by farming specialists from the Hanoi University how to grow and maintain the operation. Equipment will be purchased and structures will be built to make this happen. All physical work will be completed by the community people. We provide the resources along with a partner NGO.

Dedication of Vietnam

These are the two buildings where Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City were dedicated for missionary work. The first occurred in Ho Chi Minh 0n the 10th Floor of the Caravelle Hotel on October 30,1966. There were about 300 people in attendance. The story goes that Elder Hinckley paused as he began his talk and said the President McKay had given him permission to dedicate the land if he was inspired to do so. He along with Elder Marion D. Hanks were in attendance. Hanoi was dedicated by President Hinckley in the mid 90's in this home which is now a restaurant. We had lunch in the room where it all occurred. While these people have gone through many challenges it was wonderful to feel the strong spirit of the members in both of these cities. A country of 83 million brothers and sisters.

The Architecture of Ho Chi Minh

I have a good friend that loves buildings. So yesterday I took pictures of buildings in Ho Chi Minh. To understand the architecture you need to understand the history. For 100 years South Vietnam was occupied by the French. As the USA joined forces with the South Vietnam group in the 1960's they kicked out the French. If you look at these buildings you can clearly see the French influence. The first building was the headquarters for the government in the war. You may recall that the tanks rolled over the gates and the South Vietnam leader said to the North leader, "I turn over the country to you". The North leader responded, "It isn't yours to give". The other buildings are the post office, a catholic church that had glass windows until they were destroyed in the war and the new 66 story skyscraper that has a helicopter pad on the side. There are new tall building popping up all over the city. Ho Chi Minh has 10 million people.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hanoi Branch

We attended the Hanoi Branch on Sunday and met many wonderful people. They meet in a house that has been made into a small church. The young girl in the yellow skirt was made the YW's president.She has been a member of the church for 1 1/2 years and is 23 years old. The RS President and Sister Talbot are in another picture. Monday Night we attended the Young Adult FHE which was truly inspiring. The bulk of the branch is young adults who have joined the church in about the last year. Every one here drives a moped or small bike so the young adults gave us a lift home. The people and the place was inspiring.