"A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." Joseph Smith

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Goodies, Guardians, and Gods

We’ve recently had several occasions to enjoy Dim Sum, a southern Chinese traditional meal where you select little “dainties” or small snacks that have been steamed or fried in bamboo baskets. 

Elder Coffey sampling the chicken feet!

Other delicacies included shrimp dumpling, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf, barbecued pork in steamed bun, spring rolls, noodles, and red bean rice custard.                         

 Nicky, Pim and Pom, our friends from Thailand, treated us several times, including some amazing desserts. Pictured below are mango flavored ice cream with little rice balls in a mango-orange sauce, fresh fruit, and mango ice cream in a pool of coconut milk and other fresh fruit.

They wanted to visit a couple of temples.  The lurking Guardian looks down at worshippers at the Che Kung Temple.  

Che Kung was said to be a great general in the Song Dynasty. He was honoured by the emperor for his great merits in suppressing a rebellion in southern China. After his death, people began worshipping him for his loyalty and bravery.

Prayer requests are delivered several ways. Turn the fan wheel three times, then bong a drum 8 times. You can print your prayer requests on paper, and always offer incense. If you walk around the incense burner with incense three times, good things will surely come your way.

Nicky is happy to be here!

And when they do, you return to give thanks by placing a wind wheel for display.

The second temple was the Wong Tai Sin Temple, a, 18,000 m2  Taoist temple.  No one here cares much whether you are Buddhist, Taoist, or a follower of Confucius.  In fact, all three blend rather harmoniously. 

Entrance to the Wong Tai Sin Temple with Nicky, Pim and Pom

This particular temple is well attended by visitors in search of a spiritual answer by means of kau cim, a fortune-telling type of practice.  Worshippers light incense sticks, kneel before the main alter, make a wish, and shake a bamboo container filled with numbered sticks until one of them falls out.  Whatever number you get can be interpreted by the fortune teller (for a fee) to let you know what lies ahead in your path. 
It is said this temple provides a very high level of accuracy!  
As she carefully shakes the bamboo container, one of these sticks will eventually fall out. The number on the stick will correspond with a good fortune, which the fortune teller will reveal to her (for a fee).

Incense coils - the smoke takes
the prayers to heaven
We visited another temple with a group of the senior missionaries  - the Tin Hau Temple– also technically not Buddhist.  Tin Hao was born in 960 on the coast in China.  She was devoted to her gods and to her family.  Her father and brother were fishermen, and according to the story, she was worried about them during a typhoon and swam to save them.  She was able to save her father but not her brother. Because of her brave act, she was immortalized, and people often build a temple in her honor near coasts to help bring people safely home. 

Lin Fa Kung Temple at Causeway Bay
The Lin Fa Kung Temple was built in honor of Kwun Yum since it has been reported she has appeared there several times. She is known as the deity of compassion.  Since there are many gods in all regions, most temples house statues of deities from Taoist, Buddhist and local religions’ traditions.  It is not desirable to worship one and offend another, so there is a compatible blending of traditions, beliefs and worship in each of these temples.

Kind of reminds me of the Apostle Paul who noticed the ancient Athenians had build an altar "To the Unknown God"...... (Acts 17:22)

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