The Spirit of Elijah


The Spirit of Elijah has influenced my life at various times and that of my family members too. We need this Spirit to remind us to do more in this important mission of the Church i.e. to Redeem the Dead, as most members may already be preoccupied with the responsibilities of daily life as well as Church callings.

It, therefore, takes a Prophet or Apostle in our modern day to inspire all to pursue or persist in this important objective. One of them in recent days who inspired me is Elder David A. Bednar in his talk in the October General Conference of 2011 recorded here.  I have extracted part of his talk about who this Elijah is and posted it below :

The Ministry of Elijah

Elijah was an Old Testament prophet through whom mighty miracles were performed. He sealed the heavens, and no rain fell in ancient Israel for 3½ years. He multiplied a widow’s meal and oil. He raised a young boy from the dead, and he called down fire from heaven in a challenge to the prophets of Baal. (See 1 Kings 17-18)  At the conclusion of Elijah’s mortal ministry, he “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11) and was translated.

“We learn from latter-day revelation that Elijah held the sealing power of the Melchizedek Priesthood and was the last prophet to do so before the time of Jesus Christ” (Bible Dictionary, “Elijah”). The Prophet Joseph Smith explained, “The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the … fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood…; and to … obtain … all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 311; emphasis added). This sacred sealing authority is essential for priesthood ordinances to be valid and binding both on earth and in heaven.

Elijah appeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:3) and conferred this authority upon Peter, James, and John. Elijah appeared again with Moses and others on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple and conferred the same keys upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

Scripture records that Elijah the prophet stood before Joseph and Oliver and said:

“Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—

“To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—

“Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors” (D&C 110:14-16).

The restoration of the sealing authority by Elijah in 1836 was necessary to prepare the world for the Savior’s Second Coming and initiated a greatly increased and worldwide interest in family history research.

(In a post-dated event in Singapore, the power of Elijah to bring rain at an unusual dry spell period of time on the island was experienced on a coincidental day when our family church Clementi Ward was having a family history event as shared here. )


Discovered in 1981

The Spirit of Elijah did already work for me in the early years of my life ie during my full-time missionary days when I was preaching the Gospel. This was when my father discovered an article in the Star Paper about a book written by Queeny Chang on our ancestors from Medan Indonesia

In 1982, July 26 I found her in Singapore

The Spirit of Elijah still continued to work in me and my wife starting in our courtship and early years of marriage. Our first real date was an all-around Peninsular Malaysia road trip accompanied by my mother and a friend that started from Kuala Lumpur northward to Penang and going eastwards to Kota Baru and then southward to Kuantan to finally end in Singapore. Our love trip also had love of ancestors in my mind as I had planned to follow up to find the author of the book of our family history whom we thought was living in Penang but found her in Singapore instead as the above photo shows.


In 1983, January 14th I brought my father and some family members to meet Queeny Chang too. In the above photo is my oldest sister Moon Lean from Penang. This was just the day before our wedding reception in Singapore on Jan the 15th.

In the discussion, my father learned much about his ancestors and also about some living relatives in the region

In December 1983, we made our way for the first time to the United States for our temple marriage in Salt Lake City. Geok Lee receives her endowments from the St George temple pictured above photographed by me outside in a cold winter's night in the desert of Southern Utah.

On 22nd December 1983, exactly a year from our marriage registration date in Malaysia, we were sealed for all time and eternity in the Salt Lake Temple by Elder Marion D. Hanks. This was the same sealing power brought by the Prophet Elijah to our modern dispensation through the Prophet Joseph Smith as recorded in our Church history. I mentioned to Geok Lee later that I had felt my mother's spirit present at our sealing and she wrote this down in our handwritten journal.

In 1984, on Friday, April 20th, my father got to meet his half-brother named Tung Mau, on the far right of the photo above, who came to visit with his wife and son from Hong Kong. Through him, I obtained a copy of Chong family genealogy book. In Chinese it is called 'Zupu' or 'Jiapu'. He had also provided more information about our roots and was helpful to correspond with me by ordinary mail, giving me more details of our family history in years later, such as can be read in a copy of his mail below :

From this letter, it is noted that my father and his half-brother were of the 19th generation from Leong Kung who first migrated to live in the village of Chung Kow or Song Kou 松口where he is treated as the 1st generation of the Chongs as the ancestors living prior to him are entirely not traceable. I am therefore of the 20th generation and my children and their cousins are of the 21st generation living today. 

In their first visit, my father had hosted many lunches and dinners but on that weekend of 21st and 22nd April, Geok Lee and I had to excuse ourselves as we were committed to being chaperones to the Single Adults of our Church having a Convention in Cameron Highlands. After this visit, they would return again in the following years to Kuala Lumpur.

My brothers in KL from left to right in the photo, Sun Ming and Sun Yit also had a chance to meet with our new found relative from Hong Kong

In 1985 during our Chinese New Year visit to Singapore, we brought along our 1st daughter Fei to meet Queeny. I had been called as the branch president of KL branch not too long ago on 16 Sep 1984 and as our family grew with Su our 2nd child and daughter arriving in Oct of 1985, I was busy not only serving my family but also our growing branch in Kuala Lumpur. I had also started my business in the IT industry and Family, Church and Business became my main preoccupation 7 days a week! 


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On 29 August 1986 Queeny Chang passed away. This is a postdated entry as I only received this newspaper cutting from my 4th brother Sun Ming who frequents Singapore more at a much later date.

This was from the Star Paper, dated Friday, August 29, 1986, the very same newspaper where I first learned about Queeny Chang in 1981. It was shown to me by my father as referenced above below the photo of her book. It reads, "Author Queeny Chang, well known in the Nonya circle and in her hometown of Medan in Sumatra, died in Singapore today. She was 90.

Madam Chang, who was born in 1896, was a daughter of a Sumatran Chinese community leader, Major Tjong A Tze.

Considered an authority of Nonya customs, she wrote: "The Memories of a Nonya", which was serialized in The Sunday Star in 1978 and in 1980. 

In 1981 her memoirs were collected and published in a book. 

When recalling the reasons for her writing the series, Madam Chang said she realized not enough was known about them and she decided to put on record what they (and she) felt and thought." End of quote. Some extracts of her book can be viewed here.

(This section, starting from the top asterisks line, has been linked to a Perpetual Easter Memory post found under the name of Queeny Chang accessed by clicking here.)

Years passed quickly when you're busy and in Oct 1988, I was released as Branch President and called to be the District President of the KL Malaysia District. The Spirit of Elijah was still strong in my wife and I as in April of 1990, we found ourselves in the Taiwan temple to submit the names of my ancestors for temple ordinances.

We had submitted over 10 generations of the Chong line with the help of 'Chen Mei-gui' (may not be the exact spelling). We were equipped with our researched records, Queeny's book and PAF files on her desk.

Geok Lee being educated in a Chinese school for about 10 years in Singapore was instrumental in getting the records submitted for my ancestral line as the records were all in Chinese, not just modern Chinese but in Classical Chinese in which Ms. Chen was most helpful to render us assistance.

On the district level, temple trips were organized and the following pics show the early saints that went to be endowed in Manila Temple that was then closest to Malaysia and was our official temple for our district until the Hong Kong temple was built later.

This was the group in July 1991

A larger group is seen in November 1993 at the Manila Temple after a temple session

Another group at the Manila Temple in November 1994 with Gary Orgill(Memorial post) in the center, a counselor in the Singapore Mission Presidency 

As the world advanced to the New Millennium, the Spirit of Elijah expands its influence.

A Family History Center in May 2004 became available in the PJ Church Building

It is located on the top level 4th floor

Many of us were also called and trained as family history consultants for our branches and Dad was put in charge at the District Level to oversee the branch consultants. The two sisters Siew Yin and Susan Ho (3rd and 4th from the left in the front row respectively) were called to be in charge of the Family History Center. Our trainer is Bro Danny Chin from the Hong Kong area office standing on the far right of the photo above.

With the availability of the internet, I helped to get all the members trained by creating a family history work blog that they could communicate with me interactively found here.

Taken in July 2004 during our trip named as 'The Journey of journeys'!

Even after many years of being busy in rearing our 6 children, the Spirit of Elijah still continued to work in me and my wife during the later years of our married life as we were inspired to travel to Church headquarters in Salt Lake City to do the work of redeeming our dead. Click the above link for Geok Lee's detailed account of how she had to work so hard in so many cities to do work for her ancestors as most of the records were in Chinese and had to be keyed in with the original Chinese characters. I had named this trip of ours the Journey of Journeys!

First stop was Hawaii to visit our daughters and see how the family history center there could help us. Geok Lee's ancestral records were all in Chinese characters and the Church online program was just starting to be able to accept such characters but using a new PAF5 family history program in Chinese version. The center in Hawaii was not updated with the latest program nor were the people familiar with entering in Chinese characters so our spirits were a little dampened. While we were there, a busload of 300 Chinese from mainland China who were converted overseas were visiting the temple. We felt the timing of the Church to accept Chinese characters online was perfect and it was only a matter of time before everyone would learn how to do it. We had to move on to the next city.

Then we looked for help at the Family History Center HQ in Salt Lake City. We got reacquainted with Mel Thatcher who works with the genealogical department of the Church and used to be based in Singapore when we first knew him and later met with him again in Hong Kong where he was transferred to after Singapore. On this trip, he introduced us to a Sis Grace from China who was a volunteer missionary attached to the Genealogy Department of the Church.

Next, we were in Geok Lee's brothers home with his wife Priscilla in Seattle. Soon we had more family members joining in to help. Joyce Lau, the sister-in-law of Priscilla, was a familiar face to us as she was the first person we knew in Seattle who picked us up from the airport one wintry day in Dec 1983 when we first came to Seattle. She came over and was ready to get busy with us to solve the family history computer program problem we were facing.

Then we headed out next to the family history center in Seattle where another miracle took place.

In the words of Geok Lee written in her account of our journey, "The people at the family history center who made things happened--they were all not supposed to be there on this day, but somehow were there. I want to believe that this was no coincidence, but the result of divine intervention."

The end result was a success as Roy her brother could perform the baptisms for names she had completed with Roy's wife Priscilla, Geok Lee and I acting as proxies in the baptism font of the Seattle temple!

Fast forwarding in time, the year is 2012 and Su is seen in Singapore, giving a surprise visit to her Mom on her birthday of April 4th. The Spirit of Elijah brought us to look for Geok Lee's father's grave seen above.


Towards the end of May 2012, as our oldest son Woon Han was getting ready to depart for his Chinese speaking Mission in Manchester UK, my wife and I took him to the Hong Kong temple primarily for his own temple endowments or ordinances for himself. The Spirit of Elijah prompted me the night before to do temple work for my father who passed away in 2009 and this required me to go on the internet to use the program then known as the new.familysearch and by some miracle I could print temple ready documents for my father that allowed my son and I to be proxy for him in the temple ordinances at the Hong Kong temple.

Sealing of my father to my mother was also done. The above documents from the Hong Kong Temple are the evidence that all temple work for my father. Chong Toong Choong, has been done.

In the summer of 2012, Su and Jay came over to visit us in Asia. They joined Geok Lee and her family members who were visiting Hainan Island and visited their ancestral village. 

The trip covered Singapore to see Han off for his mission and also to explore Malaysia. We came as far north as Penang to visit the Kek Lok Si temple in the 1st week of July.
It was also an opportunity to find the special place where the early donors responsible for the construction of the temple had statues made of them and my great grandfather Tjong Yong Hian and his brother Tjong A Fie are supposed to be included. It took us some time to find where the place was as it had been moved from the old place below near the Pagoda tower to a newer block of buildings higher up as per the above photo.

At last, we found them but it was tricky to tell which statue was who as they were not labeled with names.

At first, by using the only photos I had of Chong Yong Hian from Queeny Chang's book, we thought it was this statue on the far right. However, in my recent inspired research, I came across a better photo of my great-grandfather seen below.

I think the statue with the mole on the edge of the right eye resembles the photo we have of my great-grandfather. There is a match!


After my wife passed away on 6 Nov 2012 in Singapore, the Spirit of Elijah seems to become more prevalent in my life. I got to read in the Church news of Jan 2013 about Malaysian Youth loving Family History found here.

I feel that with Mom's support on the other side of the veil, our Family History Work will surely advance even further. I am now making a serious study of the new FamilySearch program launched in progressive stages in 2013 on the internet.  This latest program that one can use to build one's family tree, free for Church members, as well as the general public, is found at www.familysearch.org


You can see, by clicking the above photo to enlarge it, that I was able to enter the family tree members for my father's paternal line all the way to an ancestor who died in 1367, with the name of his father above him who has an unknown deceased date. All these names came from the work and trips that my wife and I had done, with the help of many others, to extract from the original documents of my family genealogy book, all the names of my ancestors which were written in classical Chinese characters. What was done with my wife's help is just over 20 generations for a single line of my father's ancestry. 

I need to later research across the name of each generation available to look for the names of siblings and their spouses that form the wide branches of their family tree, going upward as well as downward too! It is a lot of work and I had better do what I can now before leaving this world. This is the Spirit of Elijah's influence on me to continue the work that my wife and I had been doing until her recent passing.

Besides my own family tree, I need also to follow-up with the ancestral records of her parents that she had researched so far. Luckily she has siblings who are also in the Church who are capable to help in researching their family tree as I am the only living adult of my parents' children who is a member of the Church!


How timely that as I am feeling so strongly the Spirit of Elijah, I was at Church in Clementi Ward Singapore to hear of the announcement that Brother Danny Chin was coming to Singapore to hold a Stake Family History session at the Singapore National Library Building! He is the same Danny Chin from Hong Kong that had been coming over to train us in Kuala Lumpur as noted in a photo posted above earlier. I was inspired to change my facebook cover posted for the month of Aug 2013 as above!

Post-dated developments:

I had also just finished reading Queen Chang's Memories of a Nonya book and will post extracts of interesting information I had gathered from the book and from various other sources too that I had found during this period of inspiration to be shared in our family blogpost.

From the family history work done during my lifetime, I had been able to update my family tree in an online website of the church at familysearch.org  As the Church program does not have facility to create a public view of my family tree, I have transferred basic information to another website known as Geni.com to produce a view below or for a larger view, click here :



Little did I know how my life would be inspired to find my roots, not just from finding names of my ancestors but eventually learning the geography and history of where they had lived, It was my amazing journey through time, places and people that I had experienced, best portrayed in the video below that I created after my focused trip to China in 2015 to find the ancestral village of my paternal Great-Grand Father :




Public awareness of the importance of Family History work appears to be increasing in the country of Malaysia, recorded as public events in the 3rd quarter of 2018, in the city of Kuala Lumpur:





Photos after the public event:








1 comment:

kc kurup said...

Very inspiring.