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In the Book, Episode 20: "Seeing Christ: a Blind Boy and a Missionary from Wuhan, China with Yangzi Jin and Conner Green"

Episode Transcript

“Seeing Christ: a Blind Boy and a Missionary from Wuhan, China” with Yangzi Jin and Conner Green

Yangzi: [00:00:00] As a Temple Square sister, you have assignments and then you are able to take language tours.

And I was always generally assigned the Mandarin tours. And then I got a description about a 13-year-old blind boy adopted from China, and then there's his family with him, all together, needs a tour.

Rebecca: A former sister missionary on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Yangzi Jin is a graduate of Cornell Law School and works as an attorney for the international section of the Kirton McConkie law firm serving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Conner: I struggled so hard with this religion.

I came here and have my family and remember they talking about pray and those things go to church. And I would go with them but I never understand why.

Rebecca: Connor Green is currently serving at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, [00:01:00] where he translates, interprets, and teaches Chinese. Connor has a variety of interests including playing the piano, listening to music, and having fun with his friends.

They are both from Wuhan, China.

Settled in the heartland of China, Wuhan is the capital of the Hubei Province and home to over 11 million people.

The long Yangtze River flows through it, and Wuhan historically served as a busy port city for commerce and trading.

There you will find the reconstructed Yellow Crane Tower in the middle of the metropolis, the original dating all the way back to about 223 AD.

 

Wuhan is a bustling hub for transportation with many railways, roads, and expressways passing through it, and is a center [00:02:00] for higher education, manufacturing, and tech research.

 

And perhaps most importantly for this episode, Wuhan is home to the hot dry noodle.

Connor lived in Wuhan all the way up until his graduation from elementary school, and then he came from a foster family in China to his adoptive parents in Utah, joining a family of ten children, seven of which were all adopted from China.

I asked him what it was like to move from one country and whole life to another.  

Conner: The first while I was really excited. But after that excitement gone, I started to realize it's hard, even talking with siblings, and we have three who can speak Chinese; if I need something I can tell them, but like big information - my feeling, my those things, it's hard.

Basically I feel like I come to a [00:03:00] country that basically I don't understand.

School is so hard, like making friends, getting good in class.

I remember it was really hard.

Rebecca: Sister Missionaries called to Temple Square come from all over the world, speaking all sorts of languages, and below their regular name tag, they bear the flag of the country they represent.

About 10 years ago, Connor's family decided to take him up to Temple Square in Salt Lake City to meet with a Mandarin speaking sister missionary one Sunday evening.

Yangzi: Before he showed up at the visitor center, I was just so excited. And then at the same time, I don't know, like, how to like, prepare, I'm like, how do I share, because a lot of the things are visual on Temple Square and then I've taken tours by pointing at things.

I decided to just put it aside because the [00:04:00] sister that assigned me the Mandarin tour, she says, “Sister Jin, we have over 20 or 30 sisters that speak Mandarin. And I felt you need to take this one.” And I got it. I was like, “Okay, I'm called and I'm qualified. So I'm just going to go with it.” And I met him and he's from the same hometown!

Rebecca: Of those 30 or so sister missionaries who spoke Mandarin Chinese, Yingzi remembers that many were from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Yangzi: It was so awesome that we all were able to take Mandarin tours. But I was specifically asked for him. So I was like, “That was very inspired,” because there was no information about his hometown or anything else.

Conner: It was wild when I find out that. It totally bring me joy that day.

I think it's one day I'm most happy because I really struggled with everything for a while.

Rebecca: Conner would find refuge not only [00:05:00] in his association with Yangzi, but hearing her read the words of the Book of Mormon to him.

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I'm Rebecca Devonas and this is In The Book.

This is a podcast where we flood the earth with testimonies of the Book of Mormon.

Conner hadn't heard about Jesus Christ before coming to the United States, and I asked him what it was like to first learn about Him.

Conner: My family told me he's a god and those things, but they took me to Temple Square, and then we learned about Jesus’ sacrifice, and what he really did to us. I think I learned way more when I start to read Book of Mormon.

On Temple Square they have a video of Jesus talking to us, remember?

Yangzi: Yes!

Conner: Yeah we have it in Chinese I remember. That was cool. And there is a statue [of Him]. [00:06:00] Big one

Rebecca: You got to touch the Cristus?

Conner: Yeah.

Rebecca: What was that like?

Conner: We went out and touched it. His feet, his hand, and I started to learn what really happened; what He did for us.

 

Yangzi: I think there was one lesson where we touched the temple; the Salt Lake temple, so he can touch it and so we can tell the history of the pioneers; how they hand carved all those blocks that are huge; making them smooth, and then I was like, “I ran out of things that he can touch!”

And then I asked him, I was like, “What's your language?” We all connect differently. Like, love language. How does he connect with people? And then I realized, “Maybe food!” It's a universal language, I believe, because we all eat. That's when I started to be like, “Okay, I need to be really creative as a missionary. And understand that he finds comfort in [00:07:00] connection with the hometown, and probably finds connection with hometown food.”

I was like, “I would love to volunteer myself to make whatever food he wants. Just like make the promise and then figure out how to deliver it.” So that's what I did and then I made the promise and he asked for the Re Gan Mian, the hot dry noodle, which is a Wuhan specialty for that region.

And I moved to Beijing and I could not find it, except in one or two - like a few restaurants. So even in Beijing. So now we're in Salt Lake City.

Rebecca: Yangzi and her companion set out to find the hot dry noodle. They went to every store they could think of, and it was nowhere to be found.

Yangzi: I was pretty sure the Asian market had it and then we could not find it and I was very sad.

And then I thought, “I will have to tell him I tried and he will forgive me, you know, and then [00:08:00] I'll make something different, an alternative.” And I have some alternative options in my head. I'm supposed to see him and give him the very disappointing news.

Rebecca: Sunday rolled around, and a few hours before her lesson with Conner, Yangzi was on an exchange with another sister, and they were scheduled to be at the tabernacle, where she saw a group of Chinese people.

Yangzi: So I thought to myself, “If they talk to me, because they saw my name tag and my red flag, I will talk to with them,” but because I want to make sure that I'm following my senior companion, so I was like, “Okay, I'm just going to walk past,” but then they contacted me, they stopped me, and they talked with me, and I just stayed there for about 10 minutes and actually remembered about my commitment to bring the hot dry noodle, so I shared with them. I was like, I just met this boy that is adopted from China from this loving family in Utah and he really [00:09:00] craved for hot dry noodle, but I cannot find it for him. I'm really sad; I have to see him at five o'clock and tell him the bad news and they were like, “We have it!” and then they not only said that, they said, “We're sorry that we ate two bags of them, but we still have three bags and we're going to stuff the rest of the bag with snacks, like chicken feet or like chicken neck, duck neck, or like specialties from our hometown that only we would enjoy and we would like.

And then at 5pm, I went to him, I was just like, “Conner, there is no way Sister Jin could possibly find you the noodle, and there is only one way is that God knows you and God loves you and tourists from China who are also God's children God is able to use them and serve His purpose.

“He loves you.”

Rebecca: Traveling to and from their house in Salt Lake wasn't [00:10:00] an easy feat for Conner's family of ten children. So after his baptism, the sister missionaries would review the lessons with Conner over the phone.

Yangzi: We will pray together and I would ask them to kneel down with us and we would pray for whatever struggle he was having and I do remember after he was baptized, he was not immune from challenges and he was quite sad for a period of time because of English.

Conner: Oh, yeah.

Yangzi: I just remember every time I'm on my knees, I remember we were having a lesson together because it was hard for you and you felt almost a little bit depressed.

Conner: Yeah, I was crying every time I called you. Sadly, true. Yes, I still remember that. Oh my gosh, yeah.

Yangzi: It's because he is basically far away from what he's very used to; the language, culture, the media, the entertainment and everything and he comes here he has to reintegrate and that's not easy.

Conner: I [00:11:00] remember of course Sister Jin didn't give me a print paper Book of Mormon because that would be useless. I remember she started with phone calls reading the Book of Mormon. I remember she called me and started to read me Book of Mormon; that's when we're doing phone lessons.

After mission she have better phones, not flip phones. She start to record Book of Mormon. I remember every night she would send a bunch of those for us to listen. And she shared testimony and that really started me to have interest in the Book of Mormon.

And actually, there's some complicated stuff like Nephi quoting Isaiah, and she will explain what she understands those things because they are really complicated I still remember [00:12:00] those nights. She would send me those files.

Rebecca: Yingzi sent the audio recordings of her reading from the Book of Mormon for 259 days.

Yangzi: I remember President Hinckley, like in the Preach My Gospel says like a convert needs to be nourished by the word of God then have a friend and have a calling.

And he has a friend and a calling, but I wasn't sure he was reading it. So I like, “Okay, if I read it and make it sound good, and then read it and share my testimony in the back so I record for about seven minutes and then I think about what I want to say - ”

Conner: Yeah and add music

Yangzi: Yeah, and I have a little bit of music to relax so that it can be more pleasant.

Yeah, I want to make sure that I can watch over those people that God has entrusted me.

So I want to pull them in a group and then also I meet a lot of Chinese speaking return missionaries and I really want them to not lose it.

So I pull them in the group.

[00:13:00] It actually ended up helping a lot of people that were having a hard time reading because their eyesights were not good

Conner: That’s my problem too!

I love those nights. Oh, it was so nice to sit there and listen to those. That was so special.

Yangzi reading from 3 Nephi 14:1 in Mandarin

Rebecca: Yangzi's group chat continued to grow and grow and grow.

Before long, she said that there were about 400 people who had been added to the group and who were listening to her every

night.

Yangzi: And it ended up to be the biggest blessing for my first year of law school because there were those 10 minutes to 15 minutes that I [00:14:00] carved out to have a quiet and sacred time that I felt I'm still Sister Jin. And that I'm still helping the Lord in some way to strengthen those people he worked so hard to bring to Temple Square and for me to be able to share the gospel.

Rebecca: Now I want to pretend that you and I are all in that group chat that Yangzi made and sort of simulate what it might have been like to click on her audio recordings.

So I asked her to read from the Book of Mormon and to share some of her thoughts on what she read.

Yangzi: I always go to Alma chapter 32 when I share with Chinese people about the gospel, because it's an invitation for them to experiment upon the word of God, and they don't have to accept my word for it. And I think it's really helpful because I think a lot of us Chinese, we respect science, technology, and we [00:15:00] respect experiments.

And so the test is not to say you need to blindly follow anything that someone else tell you, but then you can experiment it yourself.

So Alma 32, the last two verses:

“And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by, ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and and pure above all that is pure. And ye shall feast upon this fruit, even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. Then my [00:16:00] brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and your patience, and long suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.” (Alma 32: 42-43)

You only know it's the words of God, not just men, if you can repeatedly test it. So I repeatedly tested in my studies and in my pursuits in life. And I found the principle of faith, diligence, patience, and long suffering always always works.

Rebecca: Yangzi had come to the United States as an exchange student at age 15 and lived with family of members of the Church in Spokane, Washington.

With her background in mind, I asked Yangzi if she had ever wondered if there could be a God.

Yangzi: It's almost like a question that you wouldn't think because you grow up in an environment where going to school, advancing in life is priority, right?

Conner: I agree with you.

Yangzi: Yeah, but when I was 12 or [00:17:00] 11 around like middle school or around that time, I started going to public library and sometimes I would try to borrow books and I saw one book on the Bible story, so I did read a little bit about that. And then my reaction was, “Oh, that's like fairy tales. That's so cool. Someone parted the sea. That's really dramatic.” So for me, it was more like Greek goddess or Hans Anderson's fairy tales - those type of things, until I was 15 and saw people living it and believing it and that the good fruit of them make them into someone that glows with so much light.

I was so happy every day because of how they treated me and I went to the local ward and then after about one or two months, I was like, “I want to join this church. How do I do that?” Even though I hear a lot of words like Nephi, Lehi, revelation, all those words, I don't fully understand them, but [00:18:00] I felt like there could be a God and I could be a daughter of God.

And the more that I look at everyone and how much they loved me and how they treated me like a daughter of God, then I was like, “It's possible.” And that's when I'm like, “I want that.” And then I had a desire to want to know God.

So I actually think that's why I think it's so important that I let all the members of the Church know from a convert's perspective is that we are so grateful for understanding God's words in His Church, but we're so grateful for you; for your example. The light Shining in everyone's eyes: that's what draws us and that's what brought us the gospel.

So … my exchange family and the ward that I was going to in Spokane and the youth and the seminary teacher that [00:19:00] touched me. And I'm like, “I want to stay in this Church to become someone like that.”

And I remember so distinctly what changed me, converted me, was the elders taught the plan of salvation.

That moment hit me really hard.

The reason why I was an exchange student was because I was very sad. And we don't know the word depression, but I was sad because I didn't feel there was a purpose in my life when I started high school.

I didn't know God, right? So I wouldn't ask, “Where's God?” but I would ask my parents, “What is the purpose of life if death is the end?” It was just really like a question from a child. I literally told my dad, I said, “Dad, grandpa died, and one day you will die, and even I have children, and I get a good job, and I raise them, I will die, and death is the end. [00:20:00] Why do I need to study so hard? Why do I need to be diligent? Why do I need to be a good person, be virtuous like the society and teachers teach us and I just don't know why. If death wipes out everything, right? And why does it matter?”

And my dad was like, “Don't ask those questions. There is no answer to those questions. And why don't you go to America? Americans look so happy. Take a year. You're younger than your friends or whatever. And then go study in America.”

And so at that moment, when the missionaries taught me about the plan of salvation, which is clearly outlined in the Book of Mormon, and that you cannot misunderstand it, I remembered my grandpa and his soul. And I know that he lives because of Jesus Christ. I can see him again and that's the hope of Jesus Christ that brings to me [00:21:00]. There was no answer for me, but I found it. And I think that it's in the Book of Mormon, so I want to invite people to read it and to test it out, but to also have an open heart. Maybe the questions of your soul that you can't find anywhere else in the library or on the internet, you can find it in the Book of Mormon.

Rebecca: I thought about how Yangzi and Conner's stories have some compelling parallels.

They were both born and spent their childhood and a good portion of their teenage years in the same city in China, were both great students, and knew little to nothing about a higher power.

As teenagers, they both went to the United States, living with religious American families who introduced them to the Church of Jesus Christ, and they both embraced it.

Conner: I remember the first time I finished the Book of [00:22:00] Mormon, I thought I will feel something crazy but I didn't. I just feel peaceful. I feel good after reading it.

 

Rebecca: As we know, the Book of Mormon is filled with references to Christ, and Conner chose to read Mosiah 14:5 where Abinadi quotes the prophetic words of Isaiah to King Noah.

Conner: But He was wounded for our transgressions.

He was bruised for our iniquities.

The chastisement of our peace was upon him.

And with his stripes, we are healed.

(Mosiah 14:5)

Jesus’s atonement is the most important part of our plan of salvation, because if he didn't do that, we won't able to come back to Heavenly Father.

I think the Book of Mormon - [00:23:00] this chapter - spends a long time to describe what Jesus really went through and what people really did to Him. I think it gave me an idea of what He really went through and what He really did for us. And because of His sacrifice, we have the chance to go back and receive the kingdom that God prepared for us. So that's why I love this scripture.

Rebecca: I asked Conner what he wants to do with that knowledge, now that he has it.

Conner: I want to do my best. I'm not perfect, but follow Him. To show people His love; the charity. I just want to try my best to get close to Him and to help people; [00:24:00] do what He did to those people.

Rebecca: Ever since Yangzi's baptism, she has had the dream to share what she has found with other Chinese people around the world. And she has actually started collecting and will translate testimonies and conversion stories from members and converts into Chinese.

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Please reach out either with your own testimony of the Book of Mormon or if you would like to participate in Yangzi's project and I will put you in contact with her.

This is a Scripture Central podcast and I produced this episode.

I'm Rebecca Devonas and you've been listening to In The Book.

Scripture Reference

Mosiah 14:5
Alma 32:42-43