To Face the Family at Home

It was February 1980 and according to the lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year was to be celebrated on Jan 28 but I had no intention to go home. I had already submitted some preliminary mission application papers to the Stake President and was waiting for the next step. I decided to call home. Prior to this, I had written home, trying to explain the deferment of my career goals for two years as I had not informed anyone at home about my conversion. I felt it was necessary to explain to my parents about my conversion in person and a letter was just too inadequate. My father answered the phone and after the brief greeting exchanges, he simply said, “You’re a Mormon now aren’t you?” I was surprised and shocked that he knew. He explained that my mother, who had visited me in the previous year, had been corresponding with an Australian family (The McDonalds) who were close to me and they informed her that I was now active in the Mormon Church! I was dumbfounded and simply replied that I was going to catch the next plane home to explain myself!

On 15 Feb 1980, I arrived home with much anxiety in my heart. I knew I had to be careful not to impose on my elderly parents in trying to persuade them to my new found faith and my personal revelation on my mission call was too sacred to tell them. I just told them that I had to answer this call from God…that this was something I had to do ….and I said it with calm confidence.

As I look back, I began to realize why I was blessed with such a strong personal revelation and assurance from God as I needed it to face the opposition I was about to experience. I thought I had severed the relationship with my father who got upset and angry for reasons not just on my mission call alone but on other family problems prevailing at that time which he blamed me for. He actually walked out of the house and literally said he would “disown his son.” I was in tears saying, “Father, you may wish to disown me but you will always be my Father to me.”

The situation became more complex when my brothers later pointed out that my mother was in a poor state of health, suffering from diabetes, several weak organs, and high blood pressure, suggesting that she could even die while I was away for another 2 years. My decision to serve a mission was crystal clear but my heart was troubled with reactions from my family and I felt very very sad. In my prayers, I had to humble myself before God and petition to him that for the service that I was to embark on, I sought no reward but a blessing for my mother that she would not die while I was away on my mission. My faith was very strong to trust God that He would answer my prayers. I already had a very strong answer that night in Australia, to lead me to this point but more signs were to follow.

Despite all the opposition from the family I had faced, there was a consolation. My mother took me by surprise one day. She asked me to take her to the Chinese temple nearby in Jalan Ampang and I asked her why. I was flabbergasted by her reply. She told me she wanted to return the Goddess of Mercy idol she had been praying to in the past and felt a desire to begin learning about the Restored Gospel in the Church that I had joined. I soon got her in touch with the only couple missionary we had, Elder and Sister Stoker who took time to teach her the missionary discussion and got her baptized on 28th March 1980.  Seen below is a photo of my mother at the Subang airport with the Stokers and some members of the Church, on 30th April 1981. My mother wanted to see them off as they return home to the US on completion of their 18-month mission in Malaysia.

I'm grateful for the Stokers who despite being of old age, Elder Stoker being in his 70s, had a spiritual love strong enough to volunteer themselves to be sent to a land that was strange to them and so far away from their home in Salt Lake City!

One of the blessings that they brought to the lives of the people in Malaysia was to help teach my mother the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and baptize her. This was truly something that was beyond my imagination that could happen but it did!

Post-dated events :

After their mission and mine too, I was happy to be able to see the Stokers again, and the Cannons also who served after they had left KL, whenever I would visit the US. This photo was taken by Bro Cannon in the summer of 1996 in their apartment building that the two couples happen to live in at that time on 123 2nd Avenue in Salt Lake City which was very close to Temple Square.

This photo was taken on April 1986 in the same apartment building that the Stokers were living in before the Cannons stayed there also. I believe many senior couples live there and Elder Stoker and I ran into a general authority well known in Asia, Elder Jacob De Jager of the 1st Quorum of Seventy, as his wife is from Indonesia.

Elder Jacob De Jager is seen in Singapore with a group of pioneer members of KL branch who visited the island on account of a Youth Conference activity in the 70s. Beside Elder De Jager is President Soren Cox of the Singapore Mission who served in 1975-78.

Who would think that I could host his son Michael De Jager in our Singapore home many years later in 2017 shared in my Facebook post of 1 June 2017 below:

It is a small world to meet up with Michael de Jager as I met his father in the year 1986, once in Salt Lake City Utah and later in Hong Kong. I have photos of the two meetings in this travelogue journal post.

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