Monday, February 20, 2012

Go forth and teach...

    It's hard to believe that we had a total of 13 missionaries at Victoria III Branch today.  On Sunday, Feb. 12, Elder Cui, who just returned from the Houston, TX Mission, came to the Branch to be released by the Hong Kong International Distract.  His parents came from Nan Chang, China, to pick him up to take him home. This may sound familiar to those who live in the U.S., Canada, and some other countries, where some parents would come to pick up their missionaries from the mission field.  But it's quite a surprise to see parents from China coming to pick up their return missionaries.  You see, most people don't even know that there are missionaries coming out of China to serve missions, because our missionaries are not allowed in China.
Our Missionaries
     Elder Cui was asked to bear his testimony during the sacrament meeting.  What a great missionary as he shared some of his missionary experiences.  Watching his parents smiling as they listened to their son speak made us realize that we parents all over the world are so alike.  We may have cultural differences, but we want our children to stay close to Christ and make Him the center of our lives.   Also, Elder Chia from Singapore spoke to us at the Sacrament meeting.  He is on his way to Taichung, Taiwan to serve his mission.  His parents currently live in Hong Kong, so he came to Hong Kong before leaving for Taiwan.  He spoke Mandarin with a slight Singaporean accent, which was quite pleasant.  We are sure he'll be rid of that accent soon though.     

    On Sunday, Feb 12, we attended the baptisms of two young ladies in the Victoria III Branch.  Sister Lin and Qin are young ladies who have come to the waters of baptism after being taught by the missionaries.  Sister Lin didn't arrive until minutes before the baptism because her parents weren't sure if they should sign the permission paper for her to be baptized until the last minute.  Sister Qin is already out of high school and was pretty sure what she wanted to do and her parents gave her their blessing to be baptized.  She reminded me of my own parents who gave permission when I asked to be baptized into the LDS Church at the age of 18.  They only asked if I understood what the Church stood for and if I could abide by those rules.  "I was born of goodly parents..." as Nephi wrote in the first chapter of the Book of Mormon.  How blessed we are who have the support of our parents.  Some parents will probably take longer to come to understand the new world their children came in contact with.  But we are all children of God and are at different junctions.  "Love thy parents" unconditionally.

    President Perkins of the LDS Asia Area President was the concluding speaker.  He told us that the difference between the proud and the humble missionaries is great.  The smart elders with pride can not progress.  He admonished us to be humble servants of the Lord, to continue to learn, to teach, and to progress.  He says that there are Chinese in almost every country of the world.  Our Heavenly Father is gathering them.  What a prophetic statement!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Faithful and Temple Attending

The Hong Kong China Temple: A Beacon to the Faithful Latter-day Saints throughout Asia
News Release —  13 January 2012

Hong Kong —To the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Asia, the Hong Kong China Temple is the house of God. Church members come to the temple to worship and to honor their families, both past and present.

The Hong Kong China Temple serves members of the Church of Jesus Christ who come from an area encompassing approximately half of the world’s population and landmass. This temple is at the heart of the Asia continent and is considered an extremely important part of the Church’s activities in Asia. Some of the areas served include: India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mongolia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

As temple missionaries, we have the privilege of meeting devout members from the above mentioned areas. Our particular assignment is to work with Mandarin speaking members of the Church. We feel so blessed to see them, to be with them, to attend Church services with them. Many of them join us at the Sunday Church services in Wan Chai on the Hong Kong Island.

One such special occasion was on Sunday, Feb.5. One of the sisters who visited the temple the week prior, decided to extend her stay so she could bring her daughter to church. The lady came from Jinan, China, where we previously taught English at Shandong University, 2008-2009. We were quite excited to meet her and shared our experiences of teaching there. She lived no more than 1/2 mile from where we lived. Of course, we abode by the rules set forth for us not to share our religion with others while we were teaching, so we probably wouldn't have met her there anyway.

The sweet sister bore her testimony to us during Sacrament meeting. She looked at us and was in tears as she told her story. She was so thrilled to see all the priesthood brethren in the audience. There were only 2 in her unit and one was working most of the time so she rarely saw him. She longed to attend church services with other Latter-day saints. She joined the Church 5 years ago when she was told about the Church. She came to Hong Kong to find out about the Church and was converted. In Jinan, all she had was the Book of Mormon and the monthly Liahona, a monthly church magazine. She studied them regularly and had the feeling that her daughter, 9 at the time, should get baptized too. They came to Hong Kong the following year and her daughter was baptized.

She tries hard to rear her daughter in the gospel. She brings her to Hong Kong whenever she can to introduce her to other LDS youth and see how the Church operates in a freer environment. Now, at the age of 14, this young lady wants to go on a mission.

It was a beautiful testimony. After church, she and her daughter had to leave to go to Shenzhen to catch the flight back to Jinan. Knowing the way, we helped her with her luggage and bags and rode the MTR Eastline with them. It was a very special day indeed because of her.

After we arrived home that Sunday, Feb. 5, we had another exciting event waiting for us. We usually feed the missionaries the first Sunday of each month, and this was it. We love feeding the missionaries, but this Sunday was even more special. Our friends, Henzer and Wendy would join us for dinner. Henzer was one of our Shandong University students. He graduated from the SDU Medical School and returned home to Shenzhen. He works for a surgical equipment company as a international sales rep. We never talked about religion, but he knew we were Mormons because we were from Utah (so he thought). We stayed connected through e-mails. When we met him and his girlfriend in Shenzhen about 2 months ago, his girlfriend said: we want to go visit your church. We were shocked! We told them we couldn't talk about the church in China, but they were welcome to come to Hong Kong and attend church with us.

Wendy and Henzer came to visit us during the Spring festival. We took them to the "jiao zi" party at the Branch. They enjoyed it every much. They said they would like to come back to visit. They were coming to Hong Kong to get an i-phone on Sunday, Feb. 5. So we invited them to come to lunch with us with the missionaries. We had a good visit as these young people carried on a conversation of various topics. They said that they liked our church but wanted to go slowly to understand what we believed in. What a cool young couple they are!
The rest of the month was meaningful as we welcomed many saints from Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai. Also, a few groups came from Guangzhou, and Zhongshan. We have met many of them before, so it was good to see them again. Because of the Spring Festival, some of them waited 3 hours at the border crossing at Shenzhen in order to come to Hong Kong. Their love and devotion to attend temple services are a testimony to us.

During the Festival, we had 4 days off, from January 21-24. We stayed home most of the time as it was crowded everywhere. We did take a hike up the Butterfly Mountain Path. Elder and Sister Chan, Sister Chan's brother and his wife came with us. Elwin was able to hike up to the top. Hooray!
At the top of Butterfly Mountain

 Until next time!