Friday, March 11, 2016

Greetings from Hong Kong and Macau...a real cultural experience

Hong Kong

Our adventure continues!  Our visas expired in Macau about 2 weeks ago.  We came back to Hong Kong to wait the 31 days until we can go back.

It has been exciting and go through Chinese New Year again.  It is an amazing family holiday time.  Think of a two to two and one-half week Thanksgiving holiday.  It is time for family and food.  Some of the factories just closed down for 14-20 days.  The workers just do not come back to work.  We see some smaller businesses just close up for the entire time.  I love their focus on family!!

Macau 2016 Chinese New Floats

We see lots of fun traditions.  They cover their doors with signs and posters wishing everyone a happy and prosperous new year.  There are many greetings to wish others happiness, health and prosperity.

Some of the traditions many be a hoax but they are unusual.
1. They love the color RED.  It is said that all the gamblers wear RED underwear as they gamble to bring them luck.
2. They travel back to their roots for Chinese New Year.  If they come from the interior then them all travel back to be with the extended family.
3. People give lycee, red packets (envelopes) with money, to children, missionaries, and people they would like to say "thank you" to, like bus drivers, doormen, hairdressers etc.
4. They have a prade which made-up mostly of floats from large business and casinos.
5. The cities and government plan activities for over 10 days.  Including fireworks every night; many people light off their own firecrackers randomly.

Macau New Year Floats 2016

Last year I brought an overcoat and hardly used in the winter months, this year it has been colder and I have needed by coat many times.  The humidity and cool breeze off the ocean makes it cold.  It is still cool and damp and as we get to mid-March.  Like home, many of the expat's like to take a warm vacation in the winter months--they have pretty reasonable airfares to many places (people say; we do not travel except between Hong Kong and Macau).

Joy 2016 Chinese New Year
Tree covered in red hearts with wishes for New Year
Joy has been working hard writing the mission's Children's English Program.  We got an approval to move forward in mid-January.  The Macau program was new and slow at the start, but last week 15 kids showed up with their parents to the program.  We just kept having faith and working on the program.  It is a real blessing and the Macau missionaries are very excited.

Turkish Fast Food 2016
We have all kinds of food in Macau and Hong Kong.  There are people from all over the world. We love the Thai food, Vietnamese food, Portugese egg tarts, Turkish kabobs, Japanese tempura, Portugese sauces, Chinese fruits (berries, dragon fruit, star fruit, many apples, pineapple and mangos) stir fry, pork with potatoes and Filipino adobo.

On the 28th of February, we had an apostle from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints come to Macau to meet with the people.  It was Elder Stevenson.  He radiated as he spoke to the people and mingled with them.  He bore testimony of the Divine mission of Jesus Christ.  His is the Savior and Redeemer of the world.  He gave a short blessing to a member we have been working with since we came and it touched her heart.  It will change her life.

Elder Stevenson in Macau-2016

We have even been blessed to see our family who in Hong Kong.  It is truly a blessing to see them when we return to Hong Kong.  We have been blessed with wonderful children and grandchildren.  It is a thrill to be with them.

Hazel's Birthday #9-2016
Sunnee and David's Family 2016
Chinese New Year in Macau
Each day our lives are shaped a little more by this experience.  We learn how to love others better and find ways to share our talents (I have fewer to share than Joy).  We see some of the things we do help others shape their lives.  When we allow the Savior to enter our lives, we all benefit greatly.  Surely, we are the greatest beneficiaries of this experience.  Our Heavenly Father has given us an experience to help us overcome our weaknesses and imperfections.

We love you all and look forward to the time we can share more of our experience with you

Joy and Sanny, good Filipino Friends at their Home


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Super Fanastic New Year--2016--Hong Kong and Macau

MACAU at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016

Macau was beautiful between Christmas and New Years.  They city and some of the churches had beautiful decorations.  Many people would wander the high volume areas and see the sites.  It was Santa and Christmas cheer. 

Nativity at Macau Church
Christmas Decorations at Centra Macau
Not as frequently, but there were some wonderful Navity sets too.  One church used the facade of the building and had a tremendous light show for 15-20 minutes every hour.  It was timed with some wonderful pleasant music. Some studies show that mainland China is converting to Christianity at the rate of about 1% a year.  There are 1.4 B people in mainland China.  In 20 years, there will be as many Christians in China as the population of the USA.  It is amazing!!

Tap Sac Public Exhibition Park near our Apartment
We live near this park below.  It is about 2 blocks.  It is a place for many displays and promotional events.  We pass by it every day as we go toward our church.  Several of these big block chacters were there.  It reminded us of our grandkids.  

We do not do many selfies...this was almost a first at New Years Eve.  It was a sea of lights over head and on the sides.  It was a canopy of ligths you could walk though.  It was fun!!  We enjoyed a nice walk for a couple hours and seeing the people and the sites...we finished our 2016 News Celebration about 9:30PM.

Joy and Scott Selfie--2016 New Years Eve

Joy Holbrook on the Streets of old Taipa

As our missionary expereince gets shorter, we finally decided we better do more exploring. We take a few hours every week to go and see the sites.  We went to old Taipa.  It was a small island across from Macau.  The casino developers came to Macau and started to land fill the area and reclaim the land about 20 years ago.  It is the place where all the casinos are today.  This is the village that was here and some of the beautiful streets.  It is full of old buildings, art and Chinese and Portuguese culture.

Scott Holbrook in old Taipa by some old artistry 2016

Oldest Buddhist Temple in Old Taipa 

The Newest Buddhist Temple in Macau.  It is beautiful.

Home Teaching in Macau 12-31-15
One of the things we love to do is meet with the members.  It is always exciting.  We went to see these families we teach every month and they push off our visit to the very last day.  After our lesson they threw a very nice New Year Party.  We love these wonderful people.  Our lives have been blessed by getting to know them.

Of all the wonderful things we can see on our mission, nothing is more beautiful and fun that to be with these people.  They give me courage and great faith as I see the sacrifices they make for their families.  Our Heavenly Father has some beautiful children and Joy and I have had the privilege to get to know a few more.  What a rich experience.

Best wishes for a Super Fantastic 2016!!!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hong Kong Missionary Experience--December 2015

Scott and Joy Holbrook's Missionary Expereince
Hong Kong 2015

We came from Macau to Hong Kong for a 5 weeks just before the American Thanksgiving.  It is exciting to seem Hong Kong at Christmas time.  The stores are all decorated and the holiday spirit is in the air.  They are commercialized just like the USA.  Each store has their Christmas sales items displayed but most stores have only a small section (10X10) dedicated to Christmas.

Kowloon Downtown 2015

In coming to Hong Kong, we had an opportunity to work at the Hong Kong Temple on Sunday the 22nd of November.  It is the only temple in the world opened one Sunday each quarter.  It is to allow domestic workers who work 6 days a week and 12 hours a day a chance to attend the temple.  It was fun to be involved as over 120, mostly Filipino's, came to the temple.  We were just made Temple Workers and it was wonderful to help.

Elder and Sister Holbrook at the Hong Kong Temple 11-22-15

We work with 2 groups of missionaries predominately.  One is the group from Macau and the other is the International Group in Hong Kong.  We get to know these young men and young women very well.  They are full of energy and excitment--they work tirelessly each and every day helping people and sharing a message of  our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Macau Zone Dec 2015

Hong Kong International District Dec 2015
Joy loves working with the 150 missionaries on their medical issures.  For the most part, it is colds, allergies, feet problems from walking 6-8 miles a day, digestive issues (strange food and the Chinese quick step; same as the Mexician) and other minor ailments.  She is excited to help them each day as the phone begins to ring.

Elder James Dim Sum Birthday Meal--he pays!  Dec 2015
We went to a fantastic Dim Sum Restuarnt to celebrate the birthday of Elder Jerry James.  It was a treat and the food was amazing.  It did not cause digestive problems.

The tradition in the far east is on a birthday the people get together and the person celebrating the birthday buys everyone a meal.  How did we get this backwards in the USA?

The LDS Church for a service project has made 1300 throw blankets for the elderly.  We had about 900 people involved in making these blankets.  It was a fun time with many hands assiting in making the gifts for the Elderly.  We are some of the "elderly" but did not get one!!

Making Throw blanket for the Elderly Dec 2015
We are having a very special experience.  It is exciting to be able to help others.  Merry Christmas to each of you.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Special Macau Experiences in October 2015

It is amazing the cravings that we sometimes get.  I saw some cottage cheese in the grocery store.  In Macau it seldom happens.  The price was not marked.  Many things western things are a little more here in Macau.  I said it is probably about 30 MOP ($3.00-4.25 US for a quart).  I thought we deserve a special treat, I am going to buy it!!  I got the rest of the items on the list and went to check out.  It was 91 MOP or about $11.50 US.  I debated putting it back and then said "what the heck"?  We have been using it like caviar. 

The $11.50 a quart Cottage Cheese

Francis, President Lam and Ryan
We have a dear friend we have made in Macau.  He is an outstanding young man (yellow tie).  He is from and served a mission in the Philippines.  While on his mission, he met a family whose daughter was in British Columbia, Canada working. He contacted her after his mission and they have had an internet romance for a year.  They have never met personally.  They have decided to get married in the Manilla Temple the end of November.  She is a cute girl and he a dynamic young man.  They both have more faith than me...we are excited for them.

Farmington in Macau at Open House
At our small chapel in Macau we had an open house this past weekend.  Many members put in lots of time in building displays about the church.  One of the displays showed the painting of the first primary in the church.  The Primary was started in Farmington, Utah.  This is the chapel that Joy grew up in and where she attended church until we were married.  It was nostalgic for Joy and she excitedly explained it to a number of people.  Farmington in Macau...what a surprise!!

Each week we attend and many times teach institute at the international branch of the church on Thursday night.  It is a great group of people to have an in-depth gospel discussion.  Taking a picture is a new way of taking role....but what if you loose the picture or get the wrong one?

Face Painting on Halloween--they said my face was already scary

We have a member from Las Vegas, Steve Anderson, who comes to Macau almost very month for a few days on business.  We asked him to help us and he brought us some refried beans (4 big cans), salsa (large bottle) and (100) tortillas.  We had 12 missionaries over for dinner last week.  They were excited about the Mexican Feast.  We added hamburger, onions, tomatoes, avocados, lime and real cheese.  It was amazing!!  Some of the missionaries thought they had died and gone to heaven.

Mexican Dinner at Apt
During the past month we went to the temple with 35 members of our international branch (mostly Filipinos).  We only have 80-90 come to church.  It is a long day journey and costs about $50 US.  This is significant when many of these people only make $400 US a month.  It was like being in heaven to see these beautiful people in the temple all dressed in white.  It was one of the great days in our life.

October 2015 Temple Group
 We continue to be blessed with this wonderful experience.  We see people trying hard to follow in the footsteps of the Savior.  Each week we see their faith grow and their commitment deepen.  We see small miracles happen in their lives.  God does love us!!  He cares about each of us!!  He knows our hearts and answers our prayers. Each day we are more grateful to be among this loving group of people who have accepted us as part of their extended family.  We have truly been blessed being here.  
 Jing our Special Temple Friend

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hong Kong/Macau Update

Our mission is not all work "sometimes" we get to play.  The international branch in Macau had a beach party on a recent Chinese national holiday.  We were able to go to the beach with 80 members and enjoy the day in the sun with a BBQ, games and good company.  They put us on the games committee.  We played a number of games that our family played at a family reunion plus a few others.  Everyone loved them and had a great time!
October 2015 Beach Hoiday Party

Nylon Sock Game

We have a great public bus system in Macau but on a holiday you can wait a long time for a ride.  We got on a bus and it was so full it just by-passed 2-3 stops since nobody wanted to get off.  In going to the breach in May we waited over an hour to get an indirect ride.  The key is go early.  On weekends and holidays, people in Macau do not like to get up early.

Banana Ball Game

Shank Your Booty Game

Plastic Sack Race

One of the great blessings of being in Hong Kong is attending the temple.  The Church has only 2 temples in the Southeast Asia Area.  We attend with the missionaries about every 2 months and on special ocasion with members.

Sister Missonaries and the Holbrook's
Jean Dimingo's Temple Group

When in Hong Kong we get to stay at a very nice apartment complex.  It has a fabulous swimming pool and Sister Holbrook loves to swim.  You can find her there several days a week for exercise if time permits (and she works to find time).
Joy's Favoite View from the Pool (on here back)
Hong Kong Apt Swimming Pool

We had some Monsoons this past 2 weeks.  It can rain an 1"-2" a day.  We have had some members tell us the water can be upto your knees in the lower part of the city.  It is bad enough having it over the soles of your shoes.

The last week I was able to give someone the priesthood.  It is amazing to look at my line of authority.  I was ordained by my father...but in the line are Spencer W Kimble; Heber J Grant; George Q Cannon; Brigham Young; Joesph Smith; Peter James, and John; was a wonderful to share this priesthood with my Philipino brother--

Rick Nelson Dela Cruz and his wife
We are loving our experience.  It is hard but rewarding work.  We feel blessed to be here!!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Hong Kong Experiences of September 2015

We had to leave Macua at the end of August due to visa issues.  We were moved to Hong Kong.  We will be back in Macau at the end of September.  We are experiencing wonderful people every place we is a blessing to be a missionary.

Before we left Macau, the Missionaries all wrote Joy a short note.  She was thrilled they would be so considerate.  The Filipino members put on a surprise party the night of her birthday.  Many of the ward had come together since we had a baptism of a fine young man.  She was blown away.

Joy's Birthday Party 2015

Near our Apartment in Hung Hom 2015
We moved to a place the LDS Church houses missionaries that work in the Hong Kong Temple and other expat's that work in the Church Area Office or as serving missions in the Area.  It is a lovely apartment building close to the bay.

After the Fall and Repairs 9-2015
As we gathered things for our apartment and tried to carry them home, I took a bad fall.  I tripped on uneven pavement.  I was sprawled out on the pavement bleeding and a major dislocated finger.  We got an ambulance ride (my first) and 3 hours of repair in the ER.  It slowed us down for a few hours but we we out doing missionary work the next day--which was a Sunday.

Mission Home and Kowloon Stake Center 9-2015

They do construction and repair with bamboo scaffolding. It is amazing to watch them lash it together particularly on larger buildings.  This is cleaning and painting of the Kong Hong Mission Home and Kowloon Stake Center.

Victoria Park 9-2105

This is Victoria Park on Hong Kong island.  It is like Central Park in NYC.  It is a place of beauty, activity and overall enjoyment.  They are making large bubbles that bounce over the water.  It was fun to watch.

Kelsey/Scott, David/Sunnee, Tait and Joy in Kowloon 
We had our son Tait and his wife come to Hong Kong.  we got the better part of two days to enjoy there company.  It was fun and exciting.  We did some tourist things, but most important we just spend some time visiting..and sharing!!  What a blessing to be with 3 of our children as we seve a mission.
HK Temple 9-2015

We love the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We know it is true.  We are grateful for Atonement and the road map to get us back to Our Heavenly Father.  We appreciate the opportunity to serve enriches our life.

Scott and Joy Holbrook