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.