During the just-concluded District Conference of the Shanghai International District, with over 500 people attending, Sister Susan Lindsay Gong (the wife of Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the First Quorum of the Seventy) shared some stories from people she has met in Asia. One of my favorite was of a man in India who, when Sister Gong asked him how he met his wife, said, “I met my wife at her wedding.” But it wasn’t because it was an arranged marriage with someone he hadn’t seen before.
The man was Catholic and had been preparing to become a Catholic priest. He was struggling with that decision, feeling that it somehow wasn’t right for him. After having prayed to God to understand what path he should follow, he was invited by a friend to attend a wedding there in India. During the wedding, though, chaos broke out. The groom’s family made a surprise last-minute demand for a new car to be added to the dowry. The bride’s family was outraged and humiliated. A bitter argument broke out with shouting and more, as the bride, hiding behind a barrier, began to sob over the disaster and threaten suicide.
The prospective priest suddenly sensed his purpose and his new direction in life. He had this feeling: “I can fix this.” He went to the father and offered a solution. He would end the disaster and bring peace by offering to marry the woman and would require no dowry. “And I will devote my life to making your daughter happy.” The father was touched, accepted the offer, and a new marriage was arranged or agreed to as they worked out the details over the next couple of weeks. The once prospective priest soon took on quite different vows and married that woman. He and his wife a few years later met missionaries and became members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and have continued strengthening their marriage and their joy.
I would love to meet that couple some day.
Our District Conference, by the way, was a tremendous event. How amazing that we could meet and hold big meetings like this here in China, with the kind permission of the government. Learning from Elder Gong and his wife and from our local leaders and fellow members was a delight. For those interested in Book of Mormon studies, Elder Gong mentioned chiasmus in the Book of Mormon and a few other issues in one of his talks. Cool. He’s a wonderfully intelligent man with a great personality. He’s also a Rhodes Scholar with a Ph.D. from Oxford. Any of you met him? Extremely kind and likeable man, and his sharp wife is also a powerful teacher and very wise, inspiring Latter-day Saint. I was especially pleased to see how much they cared about our Single Adults.
I was delighted that we had 78 present for the Young Single Adult devotional after the main session of conference. We had planned lunch for about 60 people (to help the YSAs staying after conference for the devotional), but wonderfully one wise and loving sister anticipated our plight and brought a big load of food on Sunday to add to what we had. It came down to the very last slice of bread, the very last paper plate, and hardly a scrap left, but the group was fed and disaster averted thanks to Sister G. Whew. Thanks a million! The people who sense needs and just pitch in are at the heart of what makes a group people a strong community, or even a Zion society, as we say in the Church. May we all build up Zion.