Several weeks ago the speaker at sacrament meeting was a native Chinese convert that married an American while at BYUH.
It was most interesting to learn that she actually was called and served a mission based out of a mainland China Chinese branch. Would never have imagined that those kinds of circumstances exist in this country I now live in. Seems naïve of me to think now that there are not members of the church here, I guess that I hadn’t really thought much about it.
She joined the church when she was 18 after her mother was baptized on an extended business trip to SLC. The church members met for many years in China with very little interaction with the main church body. I think that the Brethren knew they were here but weren’t really able to figure out how to make meaningful connections within the government here.
When the church went to Area Authority 70s the Chinese Govt asked the church to create a Presidency for China so that they would have a single point of contact to handle church related interactions and to address concerns and provide assistance to/for the members living in China. I imagine that the reinclusion of Hong Kong after the Brits gave it back accelerated that need. So the units are now getting better leadership support and the leadership gets training in Hong Kong. Never even knew about those units.
We are still in a unique situation here, we are not allowed to even associate with the native units so there might be one here locally but we will never know it. Prior to our meetings we are read a statement that talks about the limitations on our activities in the church. I understand why it is necessary and wonder how long the conditions will remain as they are.
I know that the communists feel that religion is a weakness and that it will be replaced with something better as the people “mature” and accept the “fullness” of communism. I also know that they are wrong. I know that what religion has to offer is not something that government can or should be trying to accomplish. There is more to man than government and religion is part of that. I wonder how long it will be before the Chinese communists come to that realization as the Russian communists did. Maybe I am trying to group communists into a too tightly defined box. I have read much of late that would indicate that the Chinese and Russian communists are not really the same thing. So it might be a larger challenge for the recognition for religion by this group of leaders.
Because we are meeting in this unique situation, the native Chinese and expats are not allowed to interact what so ever and we are not allowed to discuss our religion with any of the native Chinese. I hope that we will be here when this changes. I know that many of the beliefs in family are compatible with our faith. I think that the public standards are more in line with our moral standards, however, we are still surprised by the glaring contradictions when we see them. The biggest challenge that I see is that the people have been prevented from having agency for so long that they have forgotten how to be individuals.
It is a unique perspective to be here at this time. While the country has invited us here and are glad to have us here, there are some reservations about having us here also. We are not like them, we are individuals; we are not a group as I have come to see with everything in this country. I think there are several things and experiences that have caused the Chinese to have group think. The duration of the cultural existence for thousands years, the sheer number of people in proximity to each other, the respect for ancestors and their ways, the rule by Emperors until recent history, and the communistic approach to group before individual all contribute to the lack of individualism I have seen within the Chinese.
So how is it that I feel blessed by this situation? I come appreciate the truly fortunate situation that I was raised in.
I have been blest throughout my life to have been born into the circumstances of my life. My ancestors made sacrifices that have given me opportunity. I know that I have had experiences in my life that make me appreciate many small things that I have taken for granted to this point in my life.
I am grateful to have been able to think for myself and go be able to do for myself. I have made mistakes that I have grown from, I have seen mistakes made by others that I have grown from, and I will hopefully make fewer mistakes in the future because of those experiences. I learned creativity by thinking about activities and doing activities that would be punished here in this country. I have increased my mental capacity because of those opportunities. I have abilities and talents that I would not have had if I had been born and lived my life entirely in this country. The independent thinker that I am would not exist as it does now and I would be less than I am now because of it.
I am grateful for the perspective that this experience is giving me. It makes me appreciate what I was given by my birth to a family that loved freedom and took the actions necessary to secure it for themselves and their posterity. I know that I have been given much and that much is now expected. I hope that the example that I set and friendships that I make will positively reflect how lucky I know that I am.
Since I am now limited by agreements with the government to what I can say, I have to show it rather than say it. It makes a strong case for teaching by example and living like you know the truth.