Dos generaciones de pioneros
Escrito por: Yenny Mo, originalmente en chino
En el idioma chino, la palabra pionero se compone de dos caracteres principales: xiān y qū. El significado de xiān es "al frente" y qū es "montar a caballo al galope". Similar a montar un caballo al galope, xiān qū zhě se refiere a alguien que es el primero en avanzar con valentía, ejerciendo toda su fuerza para abrir un nuevo camino para los demás.
This is the same for the pioneers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph Smith was the first prophet after the restoration of Christ’s Church. In the spring of 1820, he sincerely asked God with great faith which church he should join. He then saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, whose light was above the brightness of the sun, and they answered his question that he should join none of them. Joseph was called to restore the original Church of Jesus Christ so that people on Earth will have the opportunity to know the living God and know how to obtain eternal blessings. Because of this great mission, he suffered immense ridicule, persecution, temptation, and heartache. After all of these trials, he was martyred.
Early saints of the Church were called to bring to pass the will of God. “Ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts…Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land.” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:7-8). Thousands of converts decided to give up everything they had and left their homes to travel to the gathering place. The journey was hard. They suffered hunger, cold, illness, and uncertainty. They were expelled and persecuted constantly. Many sacrificed their lives in order to build Zion, to strengthen God’s Church on Earth so that they and all people on Earth—past and future generations—could have the opportunity to receive eternal blessings. The state of Utah has established July 24th as the Pioneer Day to commemorate their heroic effort and sacrifice.
However, the word pioneer doesn’t just apply to those who crossed the plains. There are pioneers from every era of time. Adam and Eve were the first human beings on Earth. Vincent Van Gogh was a pioneer of expressionism in the 20th century. Howard Reingold pioneered the development of virtual communities. We can be pioneers within our own families. I would like to share the experiences of two generations of pioneers in the Mo family.
Mi padre nació en un pueblo de la provincia de Guangdong, China. Se incorporó al ejército a los 19 años. Tres años después, regresó a su ciudad natal, se convirtió en profesor de educación física y conoció a mi madre. Durante ese tiempo, nuestra familia vivía en la pobreza. Luego, en 1984, se le dio la oportunidad de ir a Venezuela con la ayuda de su primo, quien le planificó el camino y le prestó dinero para cubrir el costo del viaje y los documentos de viaje.
El viaje comenzó desde Xin Ping Village hasta Shahu Town, y luego a Guangzhou, donde pasó la noche en la casa de un amigo hasta la mañana siguiente. Luego tomó otro tren a Hong Kong. Poco después de su llegada, gastó el único dinero que tenía comprando un nuevo conjunto de ropa, un par de zapatos y un regalo para su primo como una tradición china de etiqueta. Después de comprar, finalmente puso un pie en el avión a París y luego a Columbia. En ese momento, no tenía un centavo y no sabía ni una palabra de inglés.
A su llegada, un conductor lo recogió, lo llevó a un hotel designado y esperó unos días hasta que se hicieron otros arreglos de transporte para que llegara a Venezuela. En esos días, el gobierno de Venezuela no entregaba visas, por lo que la ruta al país era extra larga.
En el auto iban dos colombianos, dos chinos (incluido mi padre) y el conductor. Después de conducir durante unas horas y pasar una colina empinada, papá pudo ver los grandes bosques desiertos y densos, lo que le dio un presentimiento siniestro. El cielo se oscureció, y de repente el conductor les explicó que se estaban acercando a la frontera venezolana, por lo que tendrían que saltar del auto lo más rápido posible y esconderse. Tuvo que negociar con los guardias fronterizos antes de regresar a recogerlos. Los pasajeros hicieron lo que les indicó y saltaron del automóvil, escondiéndose en los árboles mientras esperaban a que el conductor regresara. Fue una noche aterradora. Dijo que nunca había visto bosques y acantilados tan enormes y salvajes. El miedo a ser devorado por tigres, lobos o bestias salvajes en cualquier momento también lo perseguía. Sobre el borde del acantilado había un abismo aparentemente sin fondo, y si caían accidentalmente, seguramente morirían. Todo lo que pudieron hacer fue esperar, temblando, el regreso del auto.
After more than half an hour passed, the car finally came. They got in the car, breathed a sigh of relief, and passed the border safely. The car advanced into the barren mountains and ridges. Soon the driver told them that there was one last border to pass. They had to jump out of the car again. Unfortunately, my dad happened to jump onto an unstable tree trunk. The trunk was about to break, but there was another stable tree trunk not far away from the other person who was with him. My father asked him to give him a hand as he jumped over. The other person didn’t understand what he had said and didn’t reach out to help, so my father got stuck and was hanging on the tree trunk. He then exerted all of his strength to climb up by himself, firmly grasping the tree trunk until he pulled himself up safely. His newly-purchased clothing was torn, and his leather shoes were broken. They endured hunger in the cold night, and waited, listening to the howling of wolves.
More than an hour had passed when the car came for them again. They jumped inside, thinking that their adventure was finally over. Not long after they got going, the driver told them to get out of the car once again and switch to another large truck full of boxes of plantains, where they would hide underneath. When my father saw the plantains, he realized that if the trestles under the boxes were to fall apart, the person underneath would surely be crushed. But they had no other option, so they went in as they were told. Other drivers and co-workers worked together to cover them up tightly with the remaining plantains. My father described that he couldn’t move his hands and feet, and had difficulty breathing due to the weight and lack of oxygen. They endured this hardship until they arrived in Caracas, Venezuela. My father’s cousin met him as he got off the truck and drove him to his house for a temporary stay. Finally, he could eat, change clothes, take a shower, and go to bed. He slept all day and night for about a week.
Pronto consiguió un trabajo trabajando horas extras en una fábrica para pagar la deuda de $8,330. Durante ese período de tiempo, escribía a casa todos los meses, diciéndole a su familia que no podía enviar dinero a casa hasta que se pagara su deuda. Le tomó cuatro años consecutivos pagar sus deudas.
Later on, my father moved to St. Maarten to work in a Chinese department store for a fellow who was from the same village. He was also responsible for making lunch and dinner for the man’s family. Unfortunately, the man would complain that my father didn’t cook enough, while the man’s mother would complain that he cooked too much. This caused them to quarrel against each other more and more over time. The man’s wife believed that my father was the cause of the disputes in the family, so she kicked my father out of the house one night. He wandered penniless for three days until another kind man took him in to work in a restaurant. He let my father sleep in the corner of the restaurant. Due to the heavy workload, he felt exhausted to the point that he decided it wasn’t working out.
His former employer eventually reappeared and begged him to go back to work in the department store, so my father went and worked for him again. But a few months later, the man’s wife still didn’t like my father and kicked him out again. Soon, he found another job in a supermarket, where he was mistreated and abused physically and verbally by the wife of his boss.
Sometime later, a wealthy man named Afoo, who passed by the supermarket daily, noticed that my father was an extraordinarily hard-working man. Afoo offered to hire my father to work for him. Because of my father’s diligence, Afoo looked after him and offered help wherever needed. He increased his salary over time, which enabled my father to send more money home, and even helped many family members to come to the island, including my mother, brother, uncles, aunts, and other relatives from both of my parents’ families. Eventually, Afoo sold one of his restaurants to my father. With that opportunity, he was able to open up more businesses. He provided sufficiently for my grandparents and his four children so that we no longer lived in poverty.
Finances were not the only blessing. Because of his success in business, my father had the ability to support my sister and me as we attended college in the Netherlands. During the first year of college, we both wanted to find a church to do voluntary work, hoping to live a more meaningful life in addition to studying. One day, my sister met the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who invited her to attend the church services and we both did that Sunday.
Cuando entré en la iglesia, algo me resultó familiar y cálido. Fue como si la luz llenara todo mi cuerpo, mente y corazón con un gozo inexplicable. En ese momento, estaba viviendo con mucho miedo y tristeza. La falta de verdadera felicidad que sentí en mi vida me impulsó a seguir reuniéndome con los misioneros cada semana, en un intento por mantener conmigo ese sentimiento de alegría sin precedentes. Finalmente, desarrollé un testimonio de que Dios vive. El es nuestro Padre celestial. Él nos ama mucho y por eso sufrió para enviar a su amado Hijo Jesucristo a hacer infinitos sacrificios por nuestra eterna felicidad. Al mismo tiempo, me permitió tener muchas experiencias y pruebas para que me volviera humilde y llegara a comprender que Él es la única fuente de felicidad duradera. Me bauticé como miembro de la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días en junio de 2016.
In February 2019, I was doing an internship in England. I had the opportunity to attend a local church meeting one Sunday. I ran into a missionary and learned that she was younger than me, and a more recent convert. Because she insisted on serving a mission, her parents didn’t talk to her. The story was very sad, but at the same time, her bright countenance and calm smile were unforgettable. In an instant, some impressive words appeared in my mind, as was described in the scriptures, “notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center… It did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn” (3 Nephi 11:3). That voice said to me, “Are you not in easier circumstances than her? What reason do you have to not to go on a mission?” It was very obvious that Heavenly Father was calling me to serve a mission through the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
I didn’t want to hurt my family, so I kept telling Heavenly Father in prayers the many reasons why it wasn’t necessary for me to serve a mission. Every time I had an excuse, I was convinced otherwise by the example of a missionary. This became a pattern and happened four times in three weeks. Finally, my sister and I fasted in the temple to gain clarity on this matter and asked Heavenly Father if it was His will. We got the same answer at the same time, that I should go.
After we left the temple on our way home, I received a shocking message from my father saying, “I just woke up and felt nervous and uneasy. Don’t tell me that you are going on a mission!” In order to not worry him, I told him that I was not. After a while, my parents told me that a fortune teller in China told them that something was preventing me from continuing my studies, so they spent a long time convincing me to concentrate on my studies and not get distracted by anything else. Even so, I still filled out mission papers. I was told that because I have a Chinese passport, I needed to have parental consent. Many people thought that would be impossible, including my sister and other Church friends.
This situation lasted until May. One day in the temple, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to tell my father about going on a mission and was reassured that everything will be all right. At that time, I was accompanied by an elderly couple, the Gouts, who had given me great support and care in many aspects of my life. On May 4th, after dinner with the Gouts, I video-called my father from the dining table, telling him that I was going on a mission. His reaction was just as I had imagined. My decision brought him heartache like a knife through his heart.
My father’s perspective was that he had suffered much hardship to raise me up to this point, and now I was leaving to serve a God who was unknown to him. He was thoroughly disappointed in me like he had lost a daughter. He even said, “I don’t know how to be a father anymore.” I could see that it was so hard for him; he had no more energy to speak and ended the call. Although the Gouts couldn’t understand anything that was said, they also felt my father’s pain and became emotional because there were no words that could help my father understand the situation. They fasted and prayed a lot for me. I cried to Heavenly Father every night; there was a great spiritual battle in me trying to resolve the will of Heavenly Father and my own father.
Una semana después, me envió 40 minutos de mensajes de voz. Cada frase me entristecía mientras expresaba sus sentimientos. Mi corazón estaba atormentado después de escuchar sus quejas, tanto que no me di cuenta de que estaba de acuerdo en dejarme ir hasta que mi hermana me lo señaló. Dijo: “Sé que estás presionado entre Dios y yo. Dios quiere que sirvas en una misión; Quiero que trabajes o estudies. Obedece a Él, porque no sé qué pasará en el futuro ". Con su reacia aprobación, finalmente se procesó mi solicitud de misión.
However, my family did not stop mocking me for my decision. I felt like I was worthless in my family and had only brought them harm. At the same time, I was suffering from a serious illness and was taking medication that made me feel dizzy all the time. I had to give a presentation on my thesis in order to graduate before going on a mission. A miracle happened as I began to present, I felt perfectly fine as I wasn’t sick at all until the end of my presentation. I was also worried about my visa issues. Even so, I still felt calm, and I believe Jesus Christ was carrying me and sharing my burdens.
After graduation and leaving the Netherlands, I had about two months left before going on my mission. I felt the need strongly to go to Zhejiang, China, and stayed at my friend’s house. It was necessary to avoid any potential obstacles that might prevent me from going on a mission, to apply for an American visa, and to keep going to church on Sundays. The night before I left, my family spoke to me in a negative way, causing me to fall on my knees and cry to Heavenly Father. One image came vividly to my mind: Jesus Christ in the garden of Gethsemane the night before he was crucified, as he knelt and prayed to his Heavenly Father, and learned that he had no other way but to endure the cross to save all mankind. He said, “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). This gave me so much strength. I stood up and wiped away my tears as though nothing had happened. With renewed commitment, I was ready for departure.
During my mission, some unfortunate things happened at home, which made it more difficult for my family to understand why I was out helping others and not them. However, after returning home, I could see that my father began to have a new view of our Church, as he saw the blessings and changes that the mission had brought me. He began to see how the gospel could help him, being a man full of anxiety. My father has always put family first, and what he cares most about is that our family should always be united. Jesus Christ has given us this opportunity to be with our families forever. My father began to realize that he really felt peace as he studied the Gospel with missionaries, which was an obvious contrast to his troubles in his career and family matters.
Solía pensar que mi hermana y yo comenzamos la primera generación del cristianismo en la familia Mo. Pero mirando hacia atrás, reconozco que confiamos en gran medida en la generación anterior. Mis padres han hecho tremendas contribuciones físicas y mentales. Valientemente escaparon de la aldea (su zona de confort) al otro lado del mundo (lo desconocido), y después de toda una vida de dificultades y trabajo, mi hermana y yo tuvimos la oportunidad de ir al extranjero, conocer a misioneros, adquirir un conocimiento de Dios, sirve en una misión y permite que la paz de Cristo fluya a la vida de nuestra familia y amigos.
Conectar dos generaciones de pioneros me ha ayudado a comprender que siempre hay pioneros antes que pioneros. Hay continuidad entre generaciones de pioneros. Todo lo que hicimos fue continuar el camino de los pioneros anteriores, extendiendo el viaje a otro punto para cumplir el propósito eterno de Dios. Cualquiera que esté dispuesto a hacer sacrificios por un bien se convierte en parte de él. El precio que pagamos puede venir en forma de hambre, lágrimas o agonía física o mental, pero la felicidad que sigue a estos sufrimientos es eterna.