SAN DIEGO — I feel like this week, I need to share my experience at the Mormon Battalion. I think my journal entries will say enough.
December 5, 2012
Every day at the battalion is a new adventure. Some moments are spent helping less-active members once again feel the Holy Ghost penetrate their long-overdue hearts. Others are filled teaching families how to build and strengthen relationships. Then there are the times where Heavenly Father sends His precious children to learn and feel of the Restored Gospel they once knew before their mortal lives on earth.
Today, Heavenly Father gave me the adventure of helping Larry remember.
Jimmy from Taiwan walked into the Battalion this morning. Despite his broken English, he was able to understand that we could tell him a story of a group of soldiers who had the courage and faith to follow a prophet of God. He agreed to come with us and was rather excited that we told him we could give the tour in Mandarin. Just as I walked Jimmy to the first room, Larry from China walked in with Sister Jarrett. He too, wanted to hear the promised story of service, sacrifice, and faith.
We finished the tour and walked them both into the resource room. I stood in front of the glass case that holds the Book of Mormon and the Bible as Larry told me how his wife encouraged him to travel the world to get a new perspective of life other than that of Mainland China. He spoke and I listened (and prayed) with all my heart knowing that the thing he needed to hear the most was sitting in a glass case right next to me.
He spoke of his dear wife and his little boy and how they have made the difference in his life. As we talked about the families in the Battalion, he choked up, “I am just so scared to die and leave them behind,” he almost whispered.
I took him to the teaching room, and on the back of one of the comment cards, I sketched out the Plan of Salvation as simply as I could. Tears streamed down his face as I told him that God was a real being, his actual Father and not just some unseen power floating in the universe. When I spoke of temples and eternal families, I could almost feel the excitement trying to escape from his heart, knowing he could have his wife and little boy forever. I knew he needed to see and feel the power of eternal families, so we watched the God's Plan video together. I tried to sneak glimpses of his face, every time I did, he was mesmerized. I only wish I knew what he was thinking.
After the film, he was silent for a while. When he looked up at me, I will never forget what he said.
“My parents are part of Communist China. Many of my people don’t believe in God. They believe in proving themselves by getting to the top no matter what it takes. I never could hug my parents. I don’t want that for my little boy. When he grows up, I want him to know that he can hug his dad. I just don’t know how to love.”
I testified that the gospel of Jesus Christ would strengthen his family, and teach him how to love. He just kept nodding his head. He told me that as he was walking around Old Town, he got the feeling to walk up the hill to see the town better. Just at that moment, my sweet companion, Sister Jarrett got the same feeling that she should walk to the statue to find guests to welcome in which is where she found Larry. What a divine intervention from Heaven. Larry left today with a Book of Mormon, knowledge of the plan that God has for him, and a desire to love.
December 7, 2012
I was taking pictures of my tour in the resource room this morning when Sister McNeil told me “A Larry was here" to see me.
“Wait a minute. Larry? Like, Larry from China?” I thought to myself.
No way could it be! I walked up to the front and yes indeed, it was Larry from China. My heart started pounding. Something inside me told me that this meeting was really important.
We walked to the teaching room and before I could even sit down, he started talking about how he had been reading the Book of Mormon and was having trouble understanding it, but he really wanted to know more. He talked to his wife last night. She was mad at first, but after he explained what he had learned, she wanted him to learn more. In China, he explained, the way you say “Mormon” can also sound like the word “Evil”, so many people think Mormons are an evil religion (What a pest Satan can be!).
He was so excited learning about families the other day, he asked me to help him understand more where we came from. Once again, I got my handy dandy referral card out and sketched a simple diagram of the Restoration. At the part of the great apostasy, he slapped his hand on his forehead and exclaimed, “Oh! I get it, I’ve seen that part in the movies!’ (He was referring to the Dark Ages).
I played the Restoration movie in Mandarin and we watched it together. It was amazing to me the Spirit and power that filled my soul, even though I couldn’t understand a word of what was being said. I know he felt it, too.
After the movie, I asked him what he felt about it. He said, “I think I will be like Joseph Smith and study this out for myself." I looked him in the eye and testified that if he would do just that, God would answer his prayers. He got a thoughtful look on his face and then asked, ‘Sister Newman, when I go home I want to share with my class what I learned from you today. Is that okay? I don’t want to force them to be Mormon, but I know that this can help them change.”
I told him that I knew he would be an influence for his family and all of China, and that he would need extra help. So we knelt down together in the teaching room and I taught a man, that just two days ago learned he was a Son of God, how to pray.
Shivers ran down my whole body as I listened to Larry speak to God for the first time here on earth. “Heavenly Father” he said. “The other day I wanted what Sister Newman taught me for my family. But today I ask that you help it sprout through all of China."
And through all of China I know that someday, it will. I can feel the power of this work. I can see it hastening on. And I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for letting me be a part of it. And especially for letting me help Larry remember.
I know God is in this work. He is real. I know it with all my heart. These are things to share. Please don’t be afraid!