I would never have planned on going on a mission. Nor did I ever plan on becoming a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, what I really didn’t plan on was two missionaries stopping my mother while she was trying to board a ferry during her hectic commute to work. That interaction altered my life forever.
Two Missionaries Ministered the Gospel of Jesus Christ
I was born in Hong Kong, China. When I was three, my mother began taking the missionary lessons. My mother, who was single at the time, was very cautious about whom she would let into our lives. Normally she would have ignored the two young men who approached her, shrugging them off to be salespersons. Instead, something drew her to the one whose nametag read “Elder John.” In her own words, “He stood there as if he were an angel.” Even though she was an atheist at the time, she seemed to apprehend that “their countenances shone [as if] the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them.” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:24).
My mother grew up during the Cultural Revolution, so I was astonished to see that these two Latter-day Saint missionaries bypassed “The Great Walls” she had built around herself. There was something very special about them. With my three year-old eyes, I thought it was the coolest thing to have the “Men in Black” coming to my home. Sometimes they stayed for dinner; sometimes they brought some of their friends from church, but they always brought a sense of warmth. And when my mother eventually got baptized, I was left with an imprint of hope and resolution. I had to wait until I was eight to be baptized.
I developed a great kinship with these two elders. Elder John and Elder Vincent Au filled the roles of the brothers I never had. I found myself particularly drawn to Elder Au (of Chinese heritage). His jovial sense of character and his hearty laughter brought a bit more light to our home. Originally from Hong Kong, he was the youngest of three boys, and we shared a special connection. I now see that he understood his purpose, living the mantra: “inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of these…ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40). Elder Au, like many great missionaries, shared his light with everyone. We loved him very much. He was our missionary. My mother would often reflect on him with fondness, stating that he was like her younger brother. I wanted to be like him when I grew older. He engraved in me a model for who I wanted to become.
At first we were diligent with keeping in contact with Elder Au. My mother even visited him and his family once. We also moved to Utah when I was eight. After our arrival, though, we received dreadful news—Elder Au had passed away. Soon after, we lost contact with his family, and I felt like I had lost my spiritual compass.
Deciding to Serve a Mission for the Restored Church of Jesus Christ
A new ray of hope and direction beamed into my life when I finally decided to serve a mission. Even though 15 years had passed since I met Elder Au, his influence never left our home. My life had its challenges, and I had to figure out who I was and what I believed.
My mother and I were the only members in our family, and so I matured in an environment of constant religious tension. Ultimately, the gratitude I had for Elder Au and what he had done for my family outweighed all of my reservations about serving a mission. As Alma explained to his son Helaman concerning the guidance provided through the Liahona: “It is easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass” (Alma 37:44). And so I began to learn that my faith in Christ would guide me to make the right choices.
When I was called to the Canada Toronto Mission as a Mandarin missionary, doubts clouded my thoughts. I remember asking my mother, “What is so special about Toronto?” My mother’s tears purged those doubts from my mind. She explained that Elder Au’s family now lived in Toronto. I would be able to see Elder Au’s parents face to face, and they could see me as a result of their son’s selfless service. Because of him, my mother and I could carry the dream of an eternal family. Because of him, we were able to obtain for ourselves a better life in the United States. And because of him, I became the man I am now. Through my service as a missionary, his light continued to shine on.
On my mission, I had the pleasure and honour to meet Elder Au’s parents and share with them what it meant to us to have their valiant son serve his mission in Hong Kong. They received me as their own: a sacred moment that I’ll always treasure. Although grieving the death of their youngest son, the gospel has continued to bless their home and family members. One of my great joys was to work with their eldest child, Bishop Au, in establishing a stake of Zion in Toronto. It has been my greatest delight to see how our Heavenly Father has interwoven our lives together.
I have seen the love and foresight of God all throughout my mission. I hope that my service has honoured both my Savior Jesus Christ and my dear friend Elder Vincent Au. Through my mission service, I have come to understand the blessings that Elder Au brought my mother and me. In fact, in October 2018, the Au family came to visit my mother and me. In the photo below are the following (from left to right): my mission companion when we worked with Bishop Au, myself, my mother, Vincent’s parents, and Bishop Au (their oldest son).
Continuing in a Legacy for Christ through Temple Blessings
I plan to keep Elder Vincent Au’s legacy alive by continuing in the faith. Now that my mission is over, I know that my Heavenly Father not only guided my path but also led two young missionaries to serve in Hong Kong. I am grateful to know that God loves each and every one of us. Because of Elder Au, both my mother and I have received holy ordinances in the temple. I believe in an eternal family, and I believe in the redeeming power of my Savior. I know that God lives. I know that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon contains the word of God.
I join my testimony with that of Joseph Smith, who testified with fervor: “I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. …When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—‘This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!’” (Joseph Smith—History 1:16-17)