Chocolate Chips–Hong Kong Style!

Our trip to Hong Kong was amazing! We enjoyed the training, the church meetings, and the Open House for the Hong Kong Self-Reliance Center. Elder Gay, of the Seventy, was there and he gave a very powerful talk using the story of Brigham Young sending saints to rescue the Martin Handcart Company to illustrate that we still have saints that urgently need this same kind of rescue. Seven countries in Asia (Cambodia, India, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Malaysia) are going to establish Self-Reliance Centers within in the next month to help in this rescue effort. Our training was very thorough and opened our minds and hearts to new ways of looking at self-reliance. We learned that we all need to be self-reliant if we are to live with our Heavenly Father again. As Christ was teaching His disciples, he taught the doctrine of spiritual and temporal self-reliance. Basically, to be self-reliant, we must (1) Exercise faith in Jesus Christ, (2) Use time wisely, (3) Be obedient, (4) Manage money, (5) Work: take responsibility, (6) Solve problems, (7) Become one, work together, (8) Communicate: petition and listen, (9) Persevere, (10) Show Integrity, (11) Seek Learning, education, (12) Stay on task, receive ordinances. We list all the 12 principles of self-reliance because we are in the process of doing a self-examination and share it if you desire to do the same. We will be teaching all these principles in our center–won’t the world be a better place if Asia joins with other areas of the world doing the same thing?

We look back at our time spent with the Innercity Project in Salt Lake City–trying to help so many people with temporal needs but felt so frustrated. Then, we come to Mongolia…and have learned so much that would have helped us back home! I’m sure there are “do-overs” when we return home!

We were able to go to the Hong Kong Temple. It is a very small temple but it has a very large spirit about it. It only accommodated 25 sisters and 25 brethren in a session. It is very beautiful and has an oriental motif, of course. A lot of the workers spoke English so it was helpful–our Sukhbaatar Branch gave us several pages of names to add to the prayer roll. Everyone at the self-reliance training attended the temple together so it was presented in English since we shared that language. How can you go wrong with the principle of self-reliance being established in centers across Asia when everyone attends the temple together???

We have found that Mongolia lacks a few things that Americans really enjoy, among them cocoa, chocolate chips, and vanilla. We took orders from the other senior couples and went on the hunt in Hong Kong. We stopped in lots of fun shops along the way and bought an item or two. But, we stopped in grocery stores and searched the shelves. Thanks to an English speaking foreign shopper, we found some cocoa on the first day and bought several canisters—success! However, no one had chocolate chips…no one! Finally, about an hour before we were to head towards the airport to return to Mongolia, we stopped in at “The Prize Mart” and they had lots of Costco brand items on their crowded shelves. We asked an employee about chocolate chips and he smiled, shook his head, and asked us to follow him. We were elated that we would be able to fulfill our assignment! Look closely and you’ll see that they really are chocolate chips!!! We bought a few boxes and decided that we had fulfilled the chocolate chip order…kind of!IMG_1885

Vanilla…not able to find it anywhere! We found plenty of cherry flavoring…watermelon flavoring…banana flavoring…lots of flavorings…but no vanilla! (A while back, we found a tiny pricey bottle in a Mongolian market so we’ll take the sisters on a little trip sometime.)

Hong Kong is a city that has specialized in high-rise buildings—business and apartment. It is a very clean city. Across from the area office there was a building that had 75 floors. There was an observation window circling the 46th floor so we walked around and observed the city by day. One evening, we boarded a bus and went to The Peak. It was amazing to look over the city at night with all the buildings illuminated and some even had light-shows—just stunning!

Sorry…we just keep rambling but we had an interesting experience. Last Sunday, we attended our church meetings in a small branch. But…something was missing–oh, NO MEN! Senior Elders administered the Sacrament and there was a branch presidency but, NO MEN??? Afterwards, one of the senior sisters told me that it was one of four branches for Philippino domestic working women. Many come to Hong Kong on a two year contract to work and pay off their passage as well as send money home to their families. One sister spoke of skyping for FHE and dinnertime with her family back in the Philippines (same time zone). Their wages are very low and their lives are lonely plus many families fall apart as the husbands stray. Another sister spoke of going to the temple last Sunday–the Hong Kong temple opens on Sunday once a month for these workers who only have Sundays off. Also, they have a worship service every day of the week so these hard-working sisters can attend church on their day off. Those who are in charge of self-reliance are hoping that these sisters can stay with their families with the help of the self-reliance centers in the Philippines.

Our final experience in Hong Kong was the airport–beautiful and spacious! There was an IMAX Theater in it as well as a huge mall before security and another one after going through security. We arrived at 1:30pm for our 3:25 flight home only to find it had been postponed to 7:30pm. We had taken a train and shuttle to the airport so we couldn’t just turn around and go back to the city. We finally boarded the airplane at 8:30pm, sat on the tarmac for awhile and finally arrived “home” at about 2:30am. Nice to be back and we’re looking forward to establishing our Mongolian Self-Reliance Center!

As Elder Gay said, “This is the Gospel in action!” The Lord has told us that the “earth is full and there is enough to spare.” (D&C 104:17) We hope to bring this message of self-reliance to the wonderful people of Mongolia!

We love our communications with our family. We love to see all our grandchildren growing and so sweetly greeting us when we skype. Our youngest granddaughter joins our other beautiful granddaughters. Our grandsons are great friends with each other. They are starting another great year of school and we are anxious to share in their successes. (Yes, I miss it!) We are so grateful that our friends are interested in some of our experiences. It has been wonderful to communicate with some of you. We are growing and changing and hoping to help the wonderful people we have contact with!!!

Love, Elder and Sister Francom

PS First BYU game came in loud and clear streaming KSL radio over the internet at 7:00am Saturday! Elder Francom email their post-game show and Greg Wrebell mentioned it on the air! Maybe you heard it!!!



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