2009/10 – Branches

Today was “cleaning check” day for our apartments; a lady comes around and checks every flat.  There are penalties if we fail twice — some small fee or something.  This is my second time; they come once a month.  I stayed up last night cleaning, like last time… but this time, nobody came and helped finish up the next morning.  We get a list of tasks divided into four groups, and each person is supposed to sign the paper and be responsible for one group.  Although I’m happier to have a clean place, even if I have to clean it alone, I’m considering just doing my own tasks next month.
 
I was startled at first to find these otherwise considerate roommates with a malfunctioning sense of cleanliness, but somehow I’m beginning to think it’s normal.  Some people are noisy, some are dirty… they’re just born without a certain ability, like a blind person.
 
I think loud people actually are just partially deaf, that’s all, while we quiet have better hearing.
 
It was really nice to have a clean floor again, and it’s always nice to clear out the kitchen sink.
 
Afterward, I sat and looked outside a while…
 
 
 
I typed with Hannah, a Tuen Mun young lady, yesterday.  I haven’t interacted with her for quite a while, except for her occasional note on this page.
 
I have about five current online friends.
 
1– I met Calvin way back in 2003 or 4, and then saw him in person in Hong Kong in 2004.  I think he was a missionary then.  I recently saw him again here in Provo; he was here visiting.  I hadn’t seen him forever…  He looked older.  Anyway, he gave me a bag of potatoes.  I finally finished the bag a couple days ago.  Noticing that they’d started to grow shoots, I saved the last one in a milk jug which I just filled with dirt last night.  I also tried planting some acorns.  I have no idea about their growing seasons or anything.
 
Calvin also told me that he’d just been rooming up by Salt Lake with a guy Dietrich, a Hong Kong missionary, who turned out to be the younger brother of Brett who married Tugsuu’s old roommate Oyuna.
 
So…
 
2– I found Yiu Yiu online, or she me, during that same 2004 trip, but we never talked, or talked only once, or something.   We finally started talking later in ’04 or ’05, I guess.  It’s been on-and-off; she’s been in Australia.  She’s talked to me since I got back from Mongolia, though.  She said something very kind yesterday or the day before…
 
3– Uh, should be Sin Ting…  I totally forget when I met Sin Ting.  Probably it was in 2005.  I guess she searched me.  We used to talk quite a bit.  She had another friend, Anders, whom I met.  I and they and Bomie all got to know each other eventually.  I haven’t talked with Anders for a while; he was studying religion and pilotry up in Washington or something.
 
Sin Ting, anyway, went to Singapore to study.  We talk only sporadically, so… it seems we’re not that close…
 
Let’s see.
 
4– Hannah in Tuen Mun.  Oh, wait…
 
4– Fan in Shenyang.  Fan searched me maybe last year, I think…  She likes practicing English; she’s a student.  She’s my age.  Fan is unique because her city (formerly Mukden) was conquered by the Mongolians about 800 years ago; and later, about 88 years ago, I think, Elder McKay the apostle travelled through it on his way to Bei Jing, to pray for China.
 
Speaking of which…  I’ve been listening to the biography of Keith Garner on CD which I bought for cheap at a book sale here.  He was a Hawaii missionary, then got rich as a constructor, then went to Hong Kong as a mission president.  He split off the Philippine Mission from the Southern Far East Mission; I think he tried pushing into Vietnam and the rest too.  The Philippines, of course, Catholicized by the Spanish, have embraced the gospel like crazy, and now there are 15 or so missions there.  So they will exalt their humble country in history; their language, their everything… because religion is the preserver of culture.
 
Anyway, it’s interesting to scan through the www.mission.net sites.  Most all of those Southeast Asian places tie in with earlier missions; it’s like a family tree.  It becomes funny to look at people’s comments on their profiles there: “I’d like to talk with anybody I served with.”  It’s like they’re peering down into a tiny little bottle and ignoring the world around them.  We all serve together… past and future.  We’re all connected; we’re all in the same mission.  Not only the Church, either; the entire planet is woven together in history, and those our fiercest enemies are in fact our amnesiac brethren, our cousins, the loved and hoped-for children of our own reverend ancestors.
 
Uh, anyway, Fan used to be interested in white guys, but now she’s settled in the practicality that she’ll only marry a Chinese.  She’s pretty in her way, like all of my friends.
 
So…
 
5– Hannah.  Hannah’s very young.  I think she searched me in 2008, also…  She’s one of these idealistic young Hong Kong people who are very nice, open, and friendly, not yet corrupted with the cynicism and self-love of adulthood.  Most young people are alike, I guess.  I was also impressed with young Tumur, my house family’s youngest son in Mongolia.  He loved to learn; he wanted to get all kinds of new talents.  His mind was open.  He wasn’t particularly interested in religion, though… but a lot of young people are, an awareness they lose with time as they leave the open fields of youth and enter the twisted thickets of life.  Hannah has apparently been acquainted with missionaries in Hong Kong.
 
You never know.  I tried preaching to Sin Ting before; I thought she had a good chance.  I guess it passed her by…  Yiu Yiu, a few years younger than me, used to be sort of Christianish before…  I’m not sure about Fan.
 
Now, I also have some minor online friends; people you’re never 100%-sure you’ll ever talk to again — people who don’t go online much or who have just started talking again after a long absence, or new people.  There’s… Chinese Denise, Philippine Jonie… and… a new Facebook contact, Japanese Ryoko.  I guess there’s also Mongolian (whatever her real name is) on YouTube, and my two church friends in UB, Handmaa and Bom-Erdene, who stopped writing back last month.  Maybe Hedy is still around somewhere…  She’s forgotten me, in her nursing quest.  I met her along with Calvin.  Then there’s Heidi, who never talks, and my MSN contact list people… two HK guys, Edward and a guy named Yuen.
 
Oh.  I guess Alexandra is one of my major online friends still.  I met her through Heidi…  Well, I first saw her maybe 5 years ago when she was little, travelling with her family to Salt Lake, along with Heidi; then she started talking to me randomly online some years later, and we’ve been friends since then.  I’ve never really MET met her though.  She’s technically a Church member.
 
Oh yeah.  Old, old Kim Hyunjoo very randomly sends these really friendly, nice messages every couple months or so, as if we’re actually friends.  We’re not; I’ve just helped her with lots of English questions online over the past couple of years since she became a teacher back in Korea.  Maybe it is to her, but her random contacting is really not helpful to me…  She’s one of the few I’ve sort of been trying to forget in life.  I think I’m finer now, though.  At the same time, it’s really nice to have her act friendly since I always used to want to be closer to her.
 
I still remember very clearly calling her from my kitchen, years ago, ready to go meet her, asking if she was still open for the night, as she’d agreed… and, whoops, she was driving down to Provo with Hei An and another friend.  That hurt.
 
 
I can remember… four times, I guess… where I dared to go for someone but got shot down.  There was that awful Messenger chat in Hong Kong with Lam Hoi Ching, in 2004…
 
Ah, I can’t list them quickly.  They’re heavy.
 
Then, there was… well, it was on two separate days.  My last time eating with Eunhee…  She said at the end that she didn’t want to hurt the very new guy, Rob (now her husband).  Then I tried… it’s stupid, but I tried bringing her two roses and a card, trying to express something to her.   I guess I couldn’t reach her by phone or something.  I think she… called me, was it?  Called me and told me Rob was offended or something…
 
And then… I guess it was that rare, rare attempt at a meeting or “date” or whatever with Hyunjoo.  I never “date”… and I did even less after that.
 
And then, it was… basically that whole spring of 2007 with Bomie, I being completely startled that she was so adamantly pretending that we were so suddenly and inexplicably “over”… culminating in that horrifying chat in May, where she guaranteed that she’d never, ever be with me again.  Something died that day… and all of our talks since then have felt like talking to a stranger.  I couldn’t make any more attempts after that…
 
…Well, I did try… one last time… at Myung Ga, a restaurant… in…. January, was it?  2008, right after she came to Utah.
 
Well, I had to make that final effort, since I’d always promised myself to… although my heart wasn’t so much in it; and, again, it felt like being with a stranger; and it didn’t hurt so much when she turned me down again.
 
So, that’s enough rejection, isn’t it?  I don’t need to try that pointless stuff any more.  It’s all been very healthy in a way.  My self-esteem is really high now, and if any girl or person doesn’t like me immediately, I already know something’s wrong with them… something’s broken or mixed up in their heads… and I’m much too good for them, and would never be satisfied with them.
 
 
Uh, anyway, I have one real-life friend, which is Tugsuu.  I e-mailed her this month (it was her birthday), and she wrote back very nicely, and finally I answered.  We had a dense, confusing beginning… but I think we might possibly end up being friends for a long time.
 
Well, here are some quotes I just stole from an old Southeast Asia Mission publication, “Echo Asia”, from July, 1972.
 
 
A poem included in an article by Sister Cynthia Foong, Singapore 2nd Branch:
 
We tell on ourselves by the friends we seek,
By the very manner in which we speak,
By the way we employ our leisure time,
By the use we make of dollar and dime.
We tell what we are by the things we wear,
And even by the way we wear our hair,
By the kind of things at which we laugh,
We tell what we are by the way we walk,
By the things of which we delight to talk,
By the manner in which we bury deceit,
By so simple a thing as how we eat,
By the books we choose from the well-filled shelf,
In these ways and many more we tell on ourselves.
 
 
A story told by Elder Charles A. Callis:
 
HE DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH SENSE TO WEAR SHOES
 
When I was president of the Southern States Mission, I had each missionary come into the office before he was released.  One day a young man came in and I asked, “What have you accomplished?”
 
“Nothing,” he said, “and I am going home.”
 
“What do you mean, you have accomplished nothing?”
 
“Well,” he said, “l baptized one man in the backwoods of Tennessee.  [I think it was in Tennessee.]  He didn’t know enough or have enough sense to wear shoes.  And that’s all I’ve done.  I have wasted my time and my father’s money, and I’m going home.”
 
I [. . .] later checked on that man.  The sense of failure with which that boy went home disturbed me, and I wanted to find out what had happened to the man he had baptized.  I found he had been ordained a deacon and had had some [. . .] assignments in the branch in which he lived.  Later he was ordained an elder and was given further responsibilities.  He moved away from the tenant farm on which he had lived and bought a little piece of ground of his own.  Still later he was made branch president.  Eventually he sold his farm, moved to Idaho and purchased a farm there.  He reared his family. His sons and daughters went on missions, as did their sons and daughters.  I have just completed a survey which indicates, according to the information I can find, that over 1,100 people have come into the Church as a result of the baptism of that one man by a missionary who thought he had failed.
 
 
Well, I like the poem because it’s honest in a way that we (that is, modern people) are afraid to be nowadays.  We’re so hung up on the idea that there might be something hidden deep below the surface of a person that we don’t even allow the consideration of why the surface is the way it is.  And we (that is, they) would be pretty useless sailors.
 
I like the story because… well.
 
-Steve
 
[Hmm, I forgot another minor friend, Russian Valentina.  She knew missionaries back home and searched me somehow, either this year or late last year.  She just arrived in California to study, and we chatted quite a bit for her first week or so here… but.
 
And there are Cui Shuang and Tao Tao, who, with Hannah, Kate, and my mother, constitute the only people to ever visit this page.  But I’ve had no chance to talk to them for a very long time…
 
The line between minor friends, major friends, and former friends is blurry, anyway, and can shift at any time.]
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One Response to 2009/10 – Branches

  1. Heidi says:

    I was online a lot in the year of 2009….mainly due to my old part time job as a Cantonese translator for church leaders’ talks…. Aren’t you sure you have my man correctly at that time? If you email me, I always reply.

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