My wife and I had the pleasure of attending a multi-district youth conference in Hong Kong over the three-day weekend we just had in China. On Sunday night at the large LDS building in Wan Chai, Hong Kong (14 stories tall!), right before the testimony meeting for the youth was about to begin, a very nice LDS man from the Hong Kong area asked me if I was in the Shanghai District presidency, and would I be willing to sit on the stand with him and other leaders during the testimony meeting. “I guess so,” I replied, “but first I need to do some dumpster diving.”
Earlier that day, the 100+ young people from five districts across China did a service project on two floors of the Wan Chai building in which they cooked a delicious for two large branches of sisters from the Philippines who work in Hong Kong as maids, trying to make money for their families back home. There are many hundreds of LDS women from the Philippines working in difficult circumstances in Hong Kong. They spend their lives serving other people with little rest. On Sunday, they got to experience having someone else serve them for a change, and I was stunned by how excited and grateful they were. Giggling, exuberant, talkative, and just so much to be around. It helped that the food we cooked was well planned and really delicious, and it helped that leaders who knew and loved the Philipinas helped guide the event. It also helped that the youth were spread out across the dining hall so they would talk to and learn from the sisters they were serving. What awesome fun this event was!
The Philipinas love to take pictures, so we had two cool backdrops set up to facilitate photography. They were provided by a sister in one of the Hong Kong branches or wards, made by her daughter. Unfortunately, during clean up, they were rolled up and thrown out with the trash. When I learned of the problem and saw the frustrated look on the sister’s face who was hoping to take the backgrounds back home, it seemed like a little dumpster diving was in order, though I worried that the odds of finding the remnants of the background would be low and that they would probably be ruined. Still, I wanted to try.
After I explained the situation and the reason for “dumpster diving,” how surprised I was when the man who invited me to sit on the stand volunteered to lead the charge toward the dumpsters right before the meeting was supposed to start. He knew where they were and took me and another man from Beijing straight there. He was in a very nice suit, unlike my cheap one (about $150, tailor made at the South Bund Fabric Market in Shanghai, one of many important stops for your next trip to China!). I could see that this was a man for whom service came naturally, even when messy.
He brought us to the dumpsters and opened them up. Fortunately, before anyone had to get dirty, the leader from Beijing, Brother Sevy, spotted a clean, dry box with the sought-after treasure. The backdrops had been rolled and folded, and were not covered in remnants of curry chicken and rice. We unfolded them, rolled them properly, and soon had them back in the hands of the smiling sister who had loaned them for our activity. Whew!
Only after we got to the stand did I realize that the dumpster-diving Mormon who helped us recover our treasure from the trash was President Tai of the Hong Kong Area Presidency. Elder Benjamin Ming Tze Tai is one of the new Area Authorities who was just sustained in General Conference. Such a kind, sweet, and professional man. It’s people like him that make it such a pleasure to be part of the Church and to rub shoulders with its leaders, even when that occurs in a Hong Kong dumpster.