Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Every Star is Different

Let it be known that I love Vic 1 primary :)

I would have never imagined growing to love these little people so
much just by watching them singing their hearts out each Sunday. It
has been a very special experience for me transitioning from wards
and moving on from difficult experiences.

Sitting behind the piano, with shaky hands, I nervously watched
the cutest humans blurting out familiar lyrics—

“Ev'ry star is diff'rent,
And so is ev'ry child.
Some are bright and happy,
And some are meek and mild.
Ev'ry one is needed
For just what he can do.
You're the only person
Who ever can be you.

I smiled.
Tears began to blur my vision.

How true is that everyone of us are meant to be different. I carefully
observed their little bodies and how hard they tried expressing
themselves via music. One little girl, with bright hazel eyes and two
high pigtails (just like Boo in Monsters Inc.), staring at the music
leader with the most paranoid, doubtful look. A little boy, with the
cutest apple cheeks, calmly and softy singing with a big sweet smile.
Another energetic little boy, who has the amazing ability to charge
from 0 to 100 % energy in seconds, zealously hammering out each
word. 

They make me laugh and I love them all. 
These wise little people remind me of a tough battle I am fighting. It is
not easy to choose what God has planned for me over cultural and
social norms. Many kind and gracious people reach out and have
helped me along the way and some chose to cast stone, calling out
judgement in the name of love. It is not easy to feel personhood in a
collective culture. 

It really hurts. 

Because you can’t go show everyone your patriarchal blessings
convincing them that you are just trying your best to live up to the
Father’s expectations. Sometimes the best show-and-tell is when you
just remain firm and steady, reaching your goal, and be truly content
with your achievements.

It’s a nerve-racking experience packing up and getting ready to move
across the world. However, I’ll remember these cute primary kids
confidently showing their uniqueness and remind myself that
Heavenly Father loves me very much.


So much that He has pointed me to the road less travelled by. 

K.D.

Monday, July 7, 2014

We Believe in... DOING GOOD














July 1st, 2014, I walked down the footbridge in Causeway Bay with
Grace and we were waiting for the protest to begin. As I saw the van
leading a massive crowd slowing moving forward, a surge of familiar
emotions quickly replaced my excitement and my eyes became
watery. 

I would have never prepared for the moment. But that day, I felt
fearful as I tried to envision the future of Hong Kong.

I was born and raised in Hong Kong. 

I was 2 when I went to the first public demonstration for June 4th. 

In the Church, we often talk about salvation/eternal family/eternal life.
When it comes to doing good, the direction of discussion often leads
back to a spiritual level where we just baptize them all (as doing them
a favor). In a recent YSA activity, I felt the familiar sense of
hollowness and got me thinking about the purposes of life.

I played nice, joked, and chatted but it still felt like swallowing a ton of
filibusters or MSG.That really yucky sense of hollowness was
grossing me out. As much as I like having fun and looking for an
adventure, it just doesn’t cut it. 

Why feeling empty? Am I just missing someone who can talk about
anything and everything with me? 

Ha.. maybe .. but I wholeheartedly believe that there is more to life
than gratification. YSA stuff is fun and cool but can we for once at
least do something for someone else? I want to serve because that
what Jesus will do. I want to talk and learn about politics because I, in
reality, live in a society frankly filled with lousy politicians. I want to
talk about medicine because health is important beyond the don’ts in
the Word of Wisdom. I want to talk about gender equality because
some women still see the priesthood as a burden and were so glad not
to have it. 

Warning: more venting are ahead. 

Today my Facebook newsfeed was filled with people sharing this
article. Quick summary for my non-Chinese speaking peeps: A high
school boy received an outstanding award and revealed his living
conditions in his speech. He was abandoned by his parents and was
raised by his grandparents. After his grandpa passed away, his
grandma’s hoarding habits was uncontrollable. In his own word, he
described “ I have to shower 3 times and run out of the door. The
fridge has been broken for awhile and I have to eat overnight leftover
food even it’s spoiled. Sometimes a ton of ants will crew out from the
food, and there are flies around but I have to eat it. It really looks like
poop but I get used to throwing up and stomach pain.” He was
depressed and attempted suicide but was thankfully stopped by
friends. 

Here comes my point—> Why would anything feel touched and think
that was love??????????????????????
My first reaction was blunt: where the heck are teachers and social
workers? That is by the book child abuse!!!!!! Grandma was clearly
mentally unstable and physically, emotionally endangering the boy.
How can any one legitimately call it love and obedience?  By are we
reacting to this type of unnecessary sacrifice and consider it as
patience?


Then I remember my sense of hollowness. This is the last days. This
is the world that’s filled with twisted values and confusion as
mentioned in the scriptures. Sometimes I even feel that we get too
caught up in working towards our own salvation and eternal family
and forget that it’s part of our covenant to serve others. I hope this is
a time for us to reflect on how we can do to help more, to reach out to
those who are in need, even if they don’t appear to be or esteem as
unworthy to receive help. 

The July 1st protest is not a one time deal but only a beginning. The
moment we critically think, to let go of essence of (Mormon/Chinese/
whatever) culture that is not in harmony with Christ’s teaching, we
reignite hope, a hope that will carry us through rough time till the
second coming of Christ. 


 There is work to do :) 





K.D.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The One Thing that I Expect of You as a Fellow Disciple of Christ

I know we all have different feelings and stances on the subject of 
women priesthood ordination and homosexuality. 

I understand that.

I really do.

But can we all agree on one thing as disciples of Christ?

“A New commandment I give unto you, That yet love one another; as
I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34

My heart has been heavy reading the articles from different blogs and
comments on the disciplinary councils of two activists. While I’ve
talked about my thoughts on Ordain Women early on, I want to talk
about our reactions. 

There are people whom I love and cherish deeply have gone through
the disciplinary council. They all describe how excruciating it is to
work things out and how miraculously the learning opportunity turns
out to be. I admire them and I’ve walked with them. I cannot think of a
more important responsibility to ensure they feel loved and supported,
by a loving Heavenly Father in the process through mortal beings like
us. 

Reading those antipathetic, snide comments on Facebook or hearing
judgmental criticism is more personal than it seems because I’ve
personally experienced and witnessed people using what seemingly
to be a learning opportunity to warrant and legalize unacceptable
behavior. 

Let us all agree on one thing.
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
John 8:7

The district president ended today’s sacrament meeting with a short
yet powerful message. He talked about how disagreement should be
embraced with the diversity in the district and what we did or didn’t do
to show love. He asked if we didn’t show love by aliening, ostracizing,
judging, and criticizing. Affirming the Savior’s commandment to love
one another, he invited us to love unconditionally regardless of the
circumstances. His remarks on love, openness, and obedience nearly
brought me to tears. 

Can we please agree on that one thing? 



And now here is my vomit of thoughts on women and the priesthood.

I do not associate myself with the Ordain Women movement even I
believe in a lot of the feminist values. If you ask me about
oppression in the Church, I’ll answer no. A “NO” that entails not from
the Church but “Yes” from its members. I understand it. I really do.
Members are imperfect people trying to live the best in a perfect
gospel. I too am imperfect and I don’t seek or expect things to be like
sunshine and roses. Like President Tai, the district president, I love
disagreements because that simulates me to think, to seek
understanding, and to empathize. 

What bugs the heck of me is the absence of respect and blurry
boundary. When my social life, choice of spouse, and academic
pursuit has become a constant topic of discussion in my former ward
in open setting where my mother still goes to, it’s getting
disheartening. Thankfully my mother has grown to develop a crazy,
sarcastic sense of humor brushing off those ridiculous comments
without revealing further information disclosing parts of my life that I
don’t intend to share (and you wonder where I get my personality
from…). It isn’t about what they say but the message they are
sending by saying those kind of things. They do not own me and I’m
not obligated to blindly obey.  When my choices, different then theirs,
are considered as signs of disobedience, it doesn’t feel right at all. 

Don’t get me wrong; I love and respect the people who are older than
me … The very fact that I have lunch with them almost every day at
work, cracking jokes, trying not to choke to death, and have very
serious conversations shows how much I love and admire them.
From time to time, I’ll bug them for advice because I know they’re way
smarter with more experience and I can trust them. 

And here is the thing, they help me to see from their perspectives and
try really hard to understand me. Maybe they know too well that I’m
not the type of girl that can just be told to do stuff (never in my
lifetime.. seriously, I was a very opinionated infant) or maybe they too
don’t like to be told to do stuff (you know I’m talking about you,
rebels.. hahaha). Regardless of the apparent reasons, I can always
feel their love and support in my endeavors. That is the type of
leaders I have been trying to be. 

And here goes another piece of women and the priesthood. Please
don’t ever attempt to comfort me by saying we have womanhood or
motherhood. These ____hood things, manhood, womanhood,
motherhood, fatherhood, priesthood, in a way represents a unique
sets of responsibilities and expectations. I am content that women do
not have the priesthood at this moment and I can live with the
uncertainty not knowing if we will be given that one day. I’m cool with
that but please don’t try pinning womanhood and motherhood on me
to explain things that are yet to be revealed by the Lord. Let Him or
His prophets or apostles do the explaining….. 

I don’t ask you to agree with me. All I hope and long for is the
increasing of understanding and unconditionally love when we
disagree. 

That’s the one thing that I expect of you as a fellow disciple of Christ.






K.D. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Looking Back and Envisioning Ahead

June 2014 marks a year of the “Chinese Mormon Girl” project.
It was year of joy, mourning, and spiritual & intellectual rebirth.
A year ago, I was very lost in my direction. Thinking differently, being
a liberal devoted Mormon while embracing postmodernism +
feminism created a whole new identity crisis. Academically, I was
struggling for a breakthrough, stretching, and exploring creatively in a
culture that embraced conformity.

Little did I know, I had to endeavor some spiritual hardship to grow,
and comprehend Heavenly Father’s plan. 

It all began with two non-conformers wanting to be the change. It all
started in the summer of 2012 when Grace interviewed me for her
thesis. I had already changed and headed out to the gym but
somehow I felt strongly about returning for the interview. For a few
hours, we chatted about the Chinese Mormon culture and it blew my
mind wild opened knowing I wasn’t the only one (thinking and feeling
that way). 

Then came Spring+ Summer of 2013 with a bunch of crazy friends
hiking and going on adventures while getting into in depth discussions
on Church doctrine and culture. In my heart, I felt that stirring which
eventually fueled me sharing my thoughts and struggles. I wished and
dreamed that all outliers in the Church could feel the pure love of God
through members, leaders regardless of their circumstances. 

It’s a very emotional moment looking back and measuring our growth
in the past year. The blog has been presented at a national
conference at UC Berkeley.  Grace graduated with her master’s and
so did I. We have remained strong and faithful in spiritual turmoils and
holding on to our beliefs. 

When my advisor notified me that I would be award with distinction for
my master’s, a lot of memories flashed back in my mind. I saw the
faces of people whom predicted my failure because of my
weaknesses. I vividly saw a friend whom reminded me who I was and
inspired me to be my best self. I felt the warmth of your constant
support and comments for us and the blog. We made it.  

In Doctrine and Covenant 88:42-44, we are taught that there is no
wrong timing in God’s plan. Things and people fall into the right place
according to His plan and I am a witness of that remarkable concept
of time. 

In two months, I will begin the next chapter of my life and starting my
doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology at BYU (and hopefully
doing tons of cultural and gender studies). I am truly grateful for the
mindfulness of the Lord and the wondrous opportunities helping and
shaping me to be me. All I wish and dream for is living up to His
expectations and the vision Heavenly Father had when He created me.
That will be the real me.
Just me. 


K.D.


Friday, May 30, 2014

One Year Mark!

Danise and I started this blog last year. Time does fly and we both can't believe what had happened to us and the kind of experiences that we had in the past year. We are both starting a new chapter in life in the coming months and all that we can say is - God does watch over us and knows us really well.

In the past year, we both tried to express out thoughts and ideas through this blog and boldly share what we think about the Church and the Mormon culture to others. We receive both positive and negative comments. What touches me is, somehow, somewhere, people who we barely know and have access to our blog would come to us and say "oh, how I love your blog!", "That's exactly what I think!", "I do read your blog and enjoy reading it.". These words and conversations are truly an uplifting encouragement  to Danise and I, and we are truly thankful for these kind words. Sometimes we do get negative comments, that's alright, we all think differently, right? We do appreciate the time you spent on reading what we wrote.

On my part, I felt that I have grown a lot in the past year, in contemplating and understanding my relationship with God, the Church, the members, and myself. It has come clear to me that as members of the Church, we need to stop thinking that we are the "chosen" people and let go of the pride.We need to let go of the structural limitation of the organization and focus more on seeing people as people. We need to, as the Bible said, remove the beam from our own eye when interacting with other members, and lastly, we need to see ourselves as people and love ourselves ten times more than we do now, and treat ourselves better.

At last, I am grateful for my buddy Danise, without her, this blog won't exist. I thank her for the wonderful mind that she has, and the willingness to talk about things that no one would talk to me about regarding some church issues and how we feel about it.

Thank you Danise, and thank you to all who read this blog!

G.K.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Forgiveness— The Strength and Courage in Advocacy

Few nights ago, I was so discouraged and frustrated. My decision of 
moving to a new branch attracted a great deal of attention and a lot of
folks came to my mother inquiring my whereabouts. Some showed
genuine concern about my church attendance however some left
stinging comments speculating my circumstances. These unkind
comments made an already difficult situations more traumatizing. I
was pretty emotional while trying to finish my thesis and for a
whole week my eyes were just puffy. 

One night when I was incorporating the meaning of agency from a
social constructionist view in my thesis, something struck me. Frocult
argued that human being was a “manifestation of discourse”and
Sawicki added that we exercised our agency to choose between
discourses after careful reflection (Burr, 2003). Deep down in my
heart and mind, I understood that because I too had choose a
religious discourse pertaining the justice and equality aspects over
my cultural discourse. 

The next morning I woke up with the clearest epiphany. That is the
reason why the Savior pled, “Forgive them, because they know not
what they do.” (Luke 23:34) It wasn’t the action, the behavior
(crucifying the Savior) that the people didn’t know. Just like everyone
of us, the Jews were so blind-sighted and governed by the discourses
(their culture and traditions) and unfortunately killed the source of
truth who was promised and foreordained to free them. 

I was so overwhelmed by the power and strength of the thought and
the empowerment it brought physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
We can’t force people to see things that they can’t see. All we can to
is continuing in our discourses and be a powerful, positive influences,
a living testimony of our conviction. 

Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, compromise, nor
indetermination. It is a sign of charity, strength, hope, and conviction
to love even we are ridiculed for the cause that we stand for.
Forgiveness is an attribute of a powerful and effect advocate.
 


“Here Christ closes the loop between his love for us and our
discipleship.  It's true that Christ doesn't promise security, justice or to
keep us from feeling pain in this life. But that's not the peace that
comes with Christ-like love.  The type of love Christ describes is
neither passive nor abstract. It is active. It is a force that causes us to
see others as the Lord sees them and then requires us to treat them
the way the Lord would treat them. It is the type of love that does
more than feels compassion or sympathy. It seeks out injustice and
suffering wherever it maybe and seeks to heal and reconcile. Paul in
his epistle to the Hebrews calls this "provoking unto love" and
teaches us one of the eternal truths about its power. Hate cannot
defeat hate. Only love can do that.” — Chad Ford


Burr, V. (2003). Social constructionism. New York, NY: Routledge Publishing. 



K.D.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Aftermath


Sitting in the sacrament meeting and knowing I no longer have to look 
over my shoulder, my heart was filled with a sense of serenity that
I’ve missed. I thought of Elder Holland’s talk at the Area Office
devotional talking about imperfect people in a perfect church.  I
remembered all the kind and awesome leaders I’ve met and served
with and how much I wanted to grow up to be just like them. 


The past month was a very difficult one. I tried to stay strong and not
let all the criticisms drowned me but every one around me saw the
dark cloud above my head. It was a very dark place, a place where I
could not leave without help. 


It was a miraculous day how my rescue was orchestrated and
executed swiftly. Within two days, I had moved to another branch and
left the dangerous situation. I thank each of you, who have offered
prayers on my behalf, comforted me, be my empathetic ear, rescue
me from the situation or FED ME CHOCOLATE. You have been by
my side each step along the way and I am grateful to have your
support.


Sometimes those feelings and thoughts, the alienation from Heaven
instilled by threats and intimidation, overwhelms me that I will start
crying regardless of where I am and what I am doing. (I totally just
cried my whole way home on the bus tonight and probably scared the
lady sitting next to me). 


When that happens, I’ll cry, and take deep breaths; keep thinking how
my Savior has been through the same situation so that He can
comfort me. I’ll count all the amazing people who has helped me to
find safety. I’ll remember that I am loved and surrounded by friends
and I do not walk alone.

The perpetrator once mocked me saying I had no right to stop him
from caring about me and receiving revelation for me a.k.a doing
horrible thing to me.

He was wrong,
because I did.


Indeed,
we did it.  


K.D.