Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunday, 9/18, 2011

We started this week with the Mid-Autumn Festival which was on Tuesday, but the celebrations started on Monday.  Families go home to be together much like we do for Thanksgiving.  Schools were closed, and the public offices were also closed for the holiday.
 This is what the holiday is about:

"When the moon is full, mankind is one!"
Moon or Lantern Festival

In China and throughout many Asian countries people celebrate the Harvest Moon on the 15th day of the eighth month of their lunar calendar. The date in the Western calendar changes annually because our calendar is based upon solar cycles. This year, the Mid-Autumn festival falls on Monday, September 12, 2011.
The Harvest Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie) is a day of family reunions much like a Western Thanksgiving. Chinese people believe that on that day, the moon is the roundest and brightest signaling a time of completeness and abundance. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, children are delighted to stay up past midnight, parading multi-colored lanterns into the wee hours as families take to the streets to moon-gaze.
It is also a romantic night for sweethearts, who sit holding hands on hilltops, riverbanks and park benches, captivated by the brightest moon of the year!
The festival dates back to the Tang dynasty in 618 A.D., and as with many celebrations in China there are ancient legends closely associated with it.
In Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, it's sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival, (not to be confused with a similar celebration during the Chinese New Year), but whatever name it goes by, the centuries-old festival remains a beloved annual ritual celebrating an abundance of food and family.

Information taken from:

We were invited by the Huang family from the Mandarin Branch to have dinner, watch the moon and also to enjoy the celebrations at the Victoria Park on the Hong Kong Island.  Their bedroom faces the park and it was almost like having front row seats.  The park was full of people, lights, lanterns and the fish lantern that the sponsors are trying to break the Guinness World Record as the world's biggest lantern. 

Since Tuesday was a holiday, the Hong Kong Temple was open from 7 AM to 1 PM to accommodate the many visitors who came.  We made the first MTR train to go to Kowloon Tong before 6 AM and were ready to go when the visitors arrived.  Many Fillipina sisters were already there waiting for the temple to be open.  What a beautiful sight!  Sister Aki usually does a breakfast for the temple workers when they had a minute to spare for a break.  I was the official pancake flipper.  I made over 200 pancakes for the workers.  It was so fun for all of us.  Thanks, Sister Aki.  We went home to rest after the temple closed at around 3.

On Wednesday, a group of 15 from Thailand came to do their temple work.  One of the sisters was a former Chinese Buddhist nun.  She was baptized after hearing the discussion from the missionaries who spoke about the plan of Salvation and temple work for deceased loved ones.  Those messages touched her heart.  She received her endowments and was sealed to her parents. 

Later that night, we were invited to speak at a fireside with Guangzhou III Branch. We both shared our pioneer stories, Elwin talked about his ancestors who joined the Church back in the 1830's.  One of the ancestors, Abigail Mead McBride, at the age of 72, walked across the plains with the Saints, being perhaps the oldest saint to do so.  She lived for another 5 years after arriving at the Salt Lake Valley.  She's buried in Hyrum, Utah.

My sister Alice and I were the first to join the Church.  My younger sister Ling joined shortly after we did.  So, the 3 of us are pioneers in our family and now we have over 30 members in the Church.  The Guangzhou branch people are also pioneers as they are among the first generation of mainland Chinese people who have joined the Church.  Book of Daniel came to mind: A major contribution of the book of Daniel is the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. In the dream, the kingdom of God in the last days is depicted as a stone that is cut out of a mountain. The stone will roll forth until it fills the whole earth ...  Also, in Doctrine and Covenants, 65:2 it says:  The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.  So this is how it feels as we observe how the missionaries convert, and the converts are the pioneers of today to help the gospel roll forth.

On Thursday and Friday, we found 6 languages spoken at the Temple; English, Thai, Cambodian, Tagalog, Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese, making this temple truly a temple of the people.  Except for one Thai sister who was illiterate, the rest of the Thai members were quite educated.  Some were accountants, some were diplomats, some business people, and yet,  in the temple, all dressed in white, there was no difference in what we are in the world, we were all the same in the sight of the Lord.  He loves all of us.  What a wonderful feeling that is!

Sunday brought us some excitement as the Feng family who we have befriended, brought their daughter Angela to church.  Angela is 15 years old and was baptized a couple of years ago when her aunt became a member.  She hasn't found any friends at church and has shied away from any activities.  We hope she finds love and friendship here in the Mandarin Branch.  The speakers talked about being messengers of Christ.  Brother Lew retold the story of the "good Samaritan" from Matthew 25:31-40.  We are admonished to follow the example of the good Samaritan and follow and serve with our hearts.

Also, on Sunday, a fireside was held right after church on the topic of the World of the Internet - Reality or Fiction.  Brother James cautioned us that in the fictional world, there is no God.  The following scriptures were quoted:
  • 2 Nephi 2:13

    13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
  • 2 Nephi 11:7

    7 For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.

Again, we had a great week!  E/S Davis

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