President Wong, only a few months into his assignment as president over the Hong Kong Temple, wrestled over a growing concern. Over 400 faithful Philippine sisters in the International District, as domestic workers, have Sundays as their only day off. Their employers keep them at work from 6 in the morning until very late at night with no break, 6 days a week. Sunday is these faithful dedicated sisters' only day off from work, and they spend it at the church building, by choice, where they can fellowship together and enjoy the worship services together. Sunday is their only day to have any time to themselves.
And the temple is closed on Sundays.
All temples are closed on Sundays. World-wide. There was no way they could ever attend the temple.
President Wong felt moved upon by the Spirit to wonder if it might be possible to request the First Presidency to allow the Hong Kong temple to be open periodically for these faithful sisters. He mulled it over in his mind for some time.
Finally, he sat down one day in his office and typed out an email, explaining the situation and requesting an exception be made for the benefit of these sisters. He expected there would be a long time before a response came. To his surprise, the next morning there was a message saying they had passed his suggestion along. He sent an email asking how long it might take for an answer. Within 5 minutes came the response – ( There is a 14 hour time difference between Hong Kong and Salt Lake City – President Wong was impressed that those on the other end of the email would answer him so quickly) - the answer was that it might take several weeks, and it would have to be reviewed first by the Temple Committee.
Several months passed with no answer. President Wong knew it was Christmas time in the United States and supposed that was the reason for the delay. Another month went by. Finally, in February he sent another email, – he just said, “What is the status?” Again within 5 minutes the answer came back – “We are awaiting approval of the First Presidency.” He was thrilled to know it had already passed the Temple Committee’s approval and was on the desk of the First Presidency. It wasn't much longer before he received the answer. He said, “I still remember the day I got the answer back. Elder Tai of the Temple Committee was on the phone. He was very excited to tell me that it had been approved!”
Never before in modern history has a temple been open on Sunday to the membership of the Church. It is unprecedented. The prayers of the faithful sisters in Hong Kong have been answered.
Today we had the opportunity of assisting in this great work. This is only the second time the Hong Kong temple has been open on Sunday. A sacrament meeting was held in the large church building across the street from the temple, and then sisters and temple workers were excused to go to the temple.
|Some of the Philippine sisters crossing the street with us to go to the temple, |
which can be seen in the background.
Elder Coffey and I were set apart today to be Hong Kong Temple ordinance workers, and today served in the temple. Thirty sisters came to do baptisms – many of them for the very first time in their lives, and many of them from the Philippine Branch in which we serve. Many are recent converts. Some are recently activated and attended the temple for the first time. Other sisters enjoyed an endowment session. There were many tears shed – tears of gratitude to a loving Heavenly Father for hearing their prayers, for inspired leaders who show Christ-like love, and for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ which helps bind families together for eternity. These sisters are among the salt of the earth.
|It's a happy day for these sisters!|
Loving the mission!
- Elder and Sister Coffey