Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Apostle in Xi'an

From the journal of Robbin Henderson, BYU China Teacher's Program, Xi'an, China

Our little Branch of Zion received a very special visit from an Apostle and his traveling companions. On Tuesday evening, September 15th, we met in President Britton’s apartment near the old city wall, down an alleyway and up six flights of gloomy stairs to his 2-story accommodations. His wife Elise, 19 year old daughter Brittany, 15 year old son Isaac, and 12 year old son Curtis all live there. We had 26 in attendance, which included all of the branch members plus Janic, a French woman who, is not a member, but visits the university from time to time and attends church with us, plus Philip and Elizabeth Wok who taught here 3 years ago and are now teaching in Jinan. It was good to see them again.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of 12 Apostles, his wife Kristen and The Area President, Anthony Perkins and his wife Christy were our visitors. We were hooked into a telephone conference call line to 38 other locations throughout China including Urumqi, Ha’erbin and several places I had not heard of (including Hotpot). There were about 125 Saints listening in to the fireside from these locations. They are all part of the China International Branch which was organized just a couple of years ago to include all the Saints scattered in small groups in several cities throughout China. They have their Sunday meetings by telephone.

Sister Perkins spoke first saying that she gains solace from the scriptures and from service, when she can put aside the worries of the world. She said that she would prefer to look ahead in anticipation rather than back, because she finds that it brings her happiness.

Elder Perkins spoke next, telling us that we are living in the wilderness, just like Lehi and his family, among the many peoples of China and that it should be a purifying and a sanctifying experience and help us draw closer to the Lord. He listed three things (of brass) that we should take with us on our journey: 1) the plates of brass, the scriptures (1 Nephi 5:21); 2) the Liahona (representing the Holy Ghost) and the covenants of the sacrament (1 Nephi 16: 10); and 3) the brass serpent, representative of the Savior; that we should look to the Savior in all we do.

Sister Oaks was next and reminded us of the Title of Liberty raised by Captain Moroni (Alma 46:12) and that we should gladly take upon us the name of Christ.

Elder Oaks spoke last and testified that “God knows you and He loves you.” He quoted the scripture from John 3:16 as the most convincing evidence of this concept…”for God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

From her story, Elder Oaks had his testimony reaffirmed that God’s love for His children is not only extended to those who are trying to live worthily, but also the wicked are greatly loved by God, and that Gethsemane was for all of us.

Our Xian Branch Choir (all 12 of us) sang the closing song, Come Follow Me. Nancy and I had the distinct pleasure of standing immediately behind Elder Oaks while singing. He did not complain, so I assume that we were on key. (They wanted me to sing Tenor, but I couldn’t get the hang of it, so I sang the melody).

Afterwards, we had refreshments, photo ops and our visitors freely mingled with us shaking hands and making small talk. It was indeed fun to hob-knob with these wonderful people. In speaking with Sister Oaks, she remarked how she wished she could become a BYU China Teacher. I told her, jokingly, that her husband would first have to retire, to which she responded sweetly, and smiling: “That’s never going to happen.”


Mom and Dad said...

How FUN to hear what's been going on in your lives, but ... you need to get me up to date! What are you doing now? Happy 2010! sjpw

Mom and Dad said...

Sorry, Guess I should identify myself: Sondra Ward