Funeral Service – Life of Teresa Part 3

Teresa was family and home centered. She loved her family very much, and since family history plays an important part in the Church she wanted to identify her family in China by all means. However, after having moved away from China there were no connections to the remaining family at all. Following now is a report written by Teresa herself originally intended for being published in the Liahona magazine:

United Forever

I have been raised in a traditional Buddhist family in Taiwan. Ever since my youth I have been searching for the true creator. At the age of 18 I found the Church of God and quickly decided to get baptized. Just like many converted Latter-day Saints, after my baptism I was facing a number of challenges. Since I became a member of a foreign Church, my brothers thought I did something shameful to our ancestors. My mother disagreed with my decision as well. However, she had compassion with me due to the accusations of my brothers. So an entire year went by, and my mother became sick beyond recovery.

While she was ill she frequently spoke about her family in China she never met again after she had to leave China. Due to political circumstances she never had the chance to contact them. I could feel her great yearning for her family in her native homeland. However, at that time I was too young to fully comprehend all her concerns. Though my mother was not a Latter-day Saint she was a virtuous woman. She would keep the family together after my father was taken severely ill and eventually passed away 10 years before. She was the best mother I could imagine, and she dedicated all her life to her children until the very end. The most wonderful and last experience I had with her happened one day shortly before she passed away when she was lying in the bed aching with pain. I asked her whether she would want to pray with me, since the God I had faith in would be able to relieve her pain. She agreed, and so together we spoke our first and last prayer. After we finished she was able to sleep quietly. A few days later she peacefully passed into the Spiritual World.

As new members of the Church we are taught we should do family research and perform sacred ordinances in the temple vicariously for deceased family members. This is what I did for my parents. After this was done I thought my duty is fulfilled, since I would not know how to carry on my family history work. Unfortunately, the information left behind by my parents was extremely sparse.

Then came a turning point, because the Lord let me know that what I had been doing for my ancestors was not at all yet sufficient.

In October 2003 President James E. Faust spoke about family research at General Conference. His teachings deeply penetrated my heart and would not leave hold of me any more. I had the feeling he spoke to me in particular. All the time I had to think of my ancestors in China and of my mother. I realized I needed to take action. Fortunately at that time the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan politically had moved together closer. It was possible for Taiwanese citizens to travel to the Mainland in order to visit their relatives. The Mainland Chinese Government created a department for Taiwanese citizens to get help with identifying their relatives in China. So I planned my first family history trip to China.

In the spring of 2004 I arrived in the native town of my parents, in Wuhan. With the help of the aforementioned government department I was able to identify the area where my parents used to live. However, the names of the places had changed and many genealogical records had been destroyed during the “Cultural Revolution”, making things even more difficult. I could not stop thinking of Nephi who was always intent on keeping the commandments: “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7.) So while searching for my living relatives I walked from village to village, step by step. One week later I finally found the street where my father used to live. An old man sat by the roadside. I inquired him after my family. Suddenly he looked at me with sparkling eyes and asked: “Do you know who I am? I am your uncle, the brother of your father!” He told me much about my parents and introduced his entire kinsfolk to me. That was just the beginning of the family history miracle.

One year later I resumed my family research. With the help of my living relatives in China I found a number of ancestor books in a remote place with a record of descent and history of my father’s family extending over more than three centuries. I was exhuberantly happy, however I was not able to identify my relatives on my mother’s side. The government department promised to do more research on my behalf about my mother’s family after my departure from China.

Several years went by, but I did not receive any word from the Chinese authorities. I was yearning more and more for eventually finding out something about my mother’s family. Early in 2011 I decided to travel to China again in order to find my mother’s younger brother. But where should I go? How could I accomplish it? Before my departure I asked my husband for a Priesthood blessing. Then I faithfully set forth on my journey into the unknown.

I knew my grandfather – my mother’s father – was highly esteemed in his neighbourhood due to his willingness to help others. There should be someone who has heard of him, or there should be any clues to be found that would lead me to his descendants. I decided to once again call upon the government department. The officials told me they were not able to identify anyone and apologised there was nothing more they could do. I left the authorities with great disappointment. Desperately I asked my Heavenly Father: “What shall I do? Shall I give up? If you do not want me to give up, where do you want me to go?” At the same time I noticed a few people animatedly conversing on the street. I inquired them about my family. They discussed a little and then the oldest of the women replied: “You rather turn around and go back. There is an old man living on the right side of the street about 100 meters away. He might know more.” I did what I was told. There was an old man indeed playing mahjong with a few other guests in his house. We talked for some minutes, but I soon realised my grandfather was unknown to him. I was about to leave when a very old woman sitting at the gambling table exclaimed: “I used to know such a man. His grandchildren are living closeby.” I was overwhelmed with joy. Soon after I had found one of my cousins. Through her I was able to get in contact with my mother’s younger brother. He told me how much he missed us. He had been travelling to Taiwan twice in vain in order to try to locate us. Filled with joy I remembered what has been promised to me in the blessing I received before my departure: “Your ancestors will guide you, and you will find them.” I also had to think of the scripture I had been reading that morning: “And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst. … I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward.” (3 Nephi 21:25-29.) All of a sudden I conceived how the work of the Lord is accomplished. We do not only work with the living but also with the deceased on the other side and with the angels. We are all linked to each other by means of the Priesthood and we are all reliant on each other. Thus we reach out and help each other.

The words of Malachi are true. Through the gospel of Jesus Christ the true meaning of the family is revealed. The gap between life and death is bridged by the power of heaven. We are verily lost without divine help. God enables us to see our family from a different point of view such that our appreciation for the bond of love between family members is greatly enlarged. When we turn our hearts to the hearts of our ancestors our love is powerfully growing, and how great are the hope and joy we thus receive! The Lord has restored his authority and he has thus enabled us to perform sacred ordinances in the temple for and in behalf of our ancestors. Together with them we hereby can feel the greatest joy God has promised to his children. Knowing this truth makes me feel humble and grateful.

Following we will hear the Recordare from the Requiem by Mozart. Recordare means to remember, and I do love remembering Teresa’s angelic voice hovering over the voices of the other singers.

Click here in order to have access to the MP3 files of the funeral service with the Recordare from the Mozart Requiem.

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