Funeral Service – Life of Teresa Part 1

My heart is about to break. My beloved Teresa has left me into a better world where she will find the peace she never had been granted and she probably never even wanted while on earth, for she was a restless worker, always eager to intuit what others might need. I can hardly believe that I, her husband, am organizing a funeral service in honour of her. I am sifting lots of material, read her journals, hear her music. In some strange way it seems unreal to me, and the last three weeks have been like an entire nightmare I would like to wake up from. However, I am aware this is not possible. But I know for sure that everything what has happened in the last weeks and months is following a supreme plan, and I hope to be able to decode this plan one day such that my pain may turn into comforting memories and peace may enter my heart.

Teresa’s family stems from the heart of China, from the City of Wuhan in the Hubei province. The two oldest sons were born in China. Times were troubled, and the communists, having gained strength after the completion of what was called the long march, made life difficult for the governing party, the Guomindang. In 1949 the civil war ended in favor of the communists, and Chiang-Kai-Shek and his followers eventually withdrew to the island of Taiwan. Teresa’s family decided to leave China as well, and so father, mother and their two sons left in 1950, heading toTaiwan  for an uncertain future.

Teresa was born on September 29, 1962, as eigth of nine children in Taipei, Taiwan. She used to tell me she has had a happy childhood although her family quite often was lacking simple necessities. Her experiences in her childhood made her believe that children do not need many material goods or toys in order to be happy. She was a tall girl and liked to frolic around outdoors with her playmates. Teresa had seven brothers and one sister. Her father was struggling with severe health problems. He passed away at an early age and her mother was working hard in order to provide for the needs of the family. Due to health problems, Teresa’s older sister was not able to help with the chores, so Teresa assumed the task to support her mother with the many and varied household chores. In so doing she learned a lot of the skills we later would appreciate so much.

Teresa always had been interested in many aspects of the arts and was blessed with corresponding talents, however the situation at home made it advisable for her to pursue a more practical education. Therefore she became an accountant, which maybe was not exactly the vocation of her dreams, but good enough for her in order to receive a modest income as a young adult. As it is common in Taiwan, in her youth Teresa adhered to the buddhist faith. She was taught by a female master and received an initiation ritual in the buddhist temple. However, a lot of her questions remained unanswered and so one day she decided to find a protestant faith community in order to hear what the Christians have to say about the crucial questions of life. When she was taught about Jesus Christ she felt very impressed and she learned that someone who wants to inherit the kingdom of heaven needs to be baptized in Christ’s name.

Now she asked herself the question what would happen to the numerous people living in China who maybe never in their lives  would get the chance to be converted to Jesus Christ and be baptized. The very same question she asked the head of this Christian congregation. The answer she received was a shock to her. The head of the congregation told her that those who get baptized are chosen and greatly blessed. Those who do not get baptized  for whatever reason will be cast into hell forever. Since Teresa had an inherent sense for justice, she hurled her reply at this minister:

„I cannot believe in a God who allows such things to happen!“

Soon after she was invited by a friend to visit a congregation of her faith. Although always open minded for everything, Teresa could hardly imagine there might be Christian congregations having a different opinion on the aforementioned matter of such importance to her. However, something inside her told her she should join her friend by all means, so she did her this favour and came along.

 The congregation she joined appeared to be a Stake Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was pleased to hear the words spoken on that occasion and she learnt that every man who lives or has lived on this earth will get the opportunity one day to take the name of Jesus Christ upon him and be baptized. When the teaching was mentioned that the living can be baptized vicariously for the deceased in a temple consecrated to the Lord she felt great joy and knew she had found her spiritual home.

Teresa joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on May 24, 1981, at the age of 18.

 Prior to this her mother fell seriously ill with cancer. During her time in hospital Teresa visited her frequently and took care of her with great devotion. She always used to greatly honour her parents, and she loved her mother above all. Teresa wrote down a special experience she had with her mother shortly before her passing away. We will dwell on this a little later.

 The hymn that follows was recorded by Teresa for practice. In this way she wanted to make a tool available to the wards in order for the children to be able to better practice the Primary songs.

 Click here for the MP3 recordings of the funeral service with the song When I Am Baptized.

Teresa in China on Sabbath

Teresa has been to China a couple of times in order to work on her family history. Her family stems from Wuhan in the province of Hubei. Although Wuhan is a quite big city with several millions of inhabitants, at the time of her stay there were no local Latter-day Saint worship services. On a Saturday she called me and said she would not want to accept sitting in the hotel inactively on Sunday. Instead she was planning to buy a flight ticket and to travel by air to Beijing on early Sunday morning in order to visit the meetings of the local ward over there. Then in the afternoon she wanted to return to Wuhan. She was very determined to put that plan into action and indeed managed to attend the sacrament meeting on Sunday in Beijing. She almost arrived too late though, since the taxi driver did not find the proper place right away. She entered the chapel while the congregation was singing the opening hymn, filled with deep gratitude that she was able to renew her covenant with the Lord again. She felt this was so important to her that she gladly accepted an air passage of more than 600 miles.

Teresa as glider passenger

At the time I met Teresa I was still an active glider pilot. One day, probably shortly after we got married, I invited her to come with me to the airfield and accompany me on a trip in a glider. It has been her first experience of this kind. We took off using winch launch and Teresa sat behind me. Since I knew that passengers in gliders frequently get sick, I gave her a chewing gum against travel sickness prior to takeoff and hoped she would cope her first flight with me without problems. However, a few minutes after takeoff, while I was busy with gaining altitude, I asked her how she felt but did not get any answer. Quite astonished, I turned around and realized that she seemed to have fainted and did not show any sign of life. Seized with panic, I pulled the brake flaps, and hurried back to the airfield as quickly as possible in order to land. Prior to my landing, I had notified the others by radio that there is an emergency. As fast as we could, we pulled Teresa out of the plane and placed her under the wing in order for her to rest in the shadow. A young medical student came and provided first aid, so Teresa fortunately regained consciousness and eventually recovered soon.

She said that shortly after takeoff she felt paralysed and was neither able to move nor to talk, although she was able to hear. The active substance in the chewing gum seemed to have triggered an allergic reaction leading to these extremely disturbing symptoms. Later in her life it became obvious she also was allergic to aspirin. Henceforth I gladly refrained from taking her along in a glider after having made this dramatic experience.

At that time I was not a member of the Church yet. The young medical student who helped Teresa so willingly and quickly was killed in a tragic glider accident a couple of weeks later. This filled me with deep grief, and while I was attending the funeral service many thoughts came to my mind. Today I am convinced that this experience was crucial to me for further investigating the gospel when I got the chance and eventually to get baptized in July 1988.

Teresa’s health was frail and vulnerable. Sad to say, this was still to become obvious on other occasions.

Teresa has deceased

Dear Friends!

Unbelievable for all of us, our beloved Teresa has left behind this mortal life forever and has been called home to her Heavenly Father on Thursday,  March 6th 2014 at 2 o’clock in the morning. She only grew 51 years old, and her sudden death was a great shock to all who knew her well. For quite some time she has been suffering from an extraordinarily aggressive type of breast cancer and finally was not able to conquer this dreadful disease.

Teresa has led a very eventful life rich in variety and therefore has left behind a bountiful legacy. Lots of material of her is existing, such as journal entries or other lyrics, photos, audio or video documents. This website is supposed to organize her legacy and make it available to a broad audience. Through her exemplary life, Teresa has demonstrated what it means to show christlike charity, and she has shared this love with all whom she became acquainted with.

It shall be shown that there is no need to being a celebrity or holding a high and esteemed position in order to influence the direct and wider environment for the better. Her life demonstrates that being a good example is worthwhile and so little by little,  day by day, slowly but constantly being able to even improve this world.

Teresa with her family in 1977
Teresa with her family in 1977