1987
Hung Wo Loi: Finding Truth on the China-Macau Border
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“Hung Wo Loi: Finding Truth on the China-Macau Border,” Ensign, June 1987, 48–49

Hung Wo Loi: Finding Truth on the China-Macau Border

The tin shack was crowded with dark-eyed people intently listening to Hung Wo Loi’s powerful testimony of Jesus Christ. Through the open window, lights flickered along the China-Macau border.

Brother Hung, who spoke easily in both Mandarin and Indonesian, often acted as interpreter for the Cantonese-speaking American missionaries in the tiny Portuguese colony of Macau—six square miles packed with hundreds of thousands of people.

Only a year before, Brother Hung had never heard of the Book of Mormon and had only limited knowledge of Christ. In their search for answers about life and religion, he and his wife, So Kam Wah, had welcomed missionaries of all faiths into their home, but hadn’t found the answers they sought.

For Wo Loi, the quest had its roots in Indonesia, where he was raised by a mother who instilled faith in God in each of her ten children. “We were also taught to work hard and be honest in our dealings,” says Brother Hung. “On three separate occasions my father found watches while he was herding cows, but he always turned them in to local authorities.”

When Wo Loi was twelve years old, his family moved back to China. Every day after school he trekked into the hills near their home in Canton gathering vegetation to feed the family’s four pigs. It was during those school years that he met pretty, dimpled So Kam Wah.

“I was impressed by her optimism and cheerfulness. She was always so willing to help me with school service projects. High school students were not allowed to date, so we became good friends.” Kam Wah’s family soon moved more than a hundred miles away and the pair corresponded for the next eight years.

After their marriage, Brother and Sister Hung worked hard; he was the leader of two thousand workers trying to discover how to save rubber trees from being uprooted by hurricanes, and she arose at 4 A.M. each day to drill holes in rubber trees to extract the sap.

In July 1979 the Hung family—which then included two daughters and has since added a son—left China to begin a new life in Macau, on the south border of China forty miles west of Hong Kong. The Hungs began a fabric weaving business in their small apartment.

Three years later, Wo Loi heard a knock above the clatter of the weaving machines and opened his door to two LDS elders. Welcoming them, he directed his hired workers to stop weaving and give full attention to these emissaries from an unknown religion.

Soon the Hungs were convinced this religion was the one they had been searching for. But one obstacle blocked Wo Loi’s baptism—he had smoked since the age of nine, not only cigarettes, but the huge Chinese bamboo bong (a giant pipe which rests on the ground).

When the missionaries challenged him to quit smoking, he began avoiding them, leaving home before their arrival. But they did not give up; they sometimes waited hours for his return. Touched by their concern, Wo Loi determined to overcome the habit and began sticking a piece of hot ginger root in his mouth every time he got the urge to smoke. In four days he had licked the habit.

On 25 April 1982, a little more than a month after first meeting the missionaries, Brother and Sister Hung were baptized.

Brother Hung was determined to keep all of the commandments—including tithing—despite financial difficulties. “The most difficult trial of my faith after I was baptized came when school was ready to start. There was simply not enough money to send our two daughters to school,” he says.

“Then one night in a dream I saw Jesus Christ with outstretched arms. He said to me, ‘Yearn not, worry not. If you keep my commandments I will bless you.’”

A few days later, an acquaintance from Hong Kong called with an offer to finance his children’s education.

Eighteen months after joining the Church, Brother Hung was called as branch president, the first Macau resident to hold the calling. “Branch members are touched by Brother Hung’s deep humility and his Christ-like love,” says Elder Leland Chan, a missionary in the Macau branch.

Visitors climbing the ladder-type steps to the Hung family’s one-room home are welcomed by Brother Hung’s huge grin and his wife’s softer, serene one. This feeling of warmth, as well as his ability to speak several languages, attracts refugees and other newcomers. The Hungs frequently serve as translators for investigators. On more than one occasion, Brother Hung has helped missionaries teach in a tiny packed room in a tin building, while many other investigators have clustered around the doorway listening. His example and stirring testimony have already led several families to join the Church.

“Through continual study of the scriptures I have received of the great goodness of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” states Brother Hung. “I have obtained a source of unextinguishable truth.”

  • Nanette Larsen, a writer, teaches Relief Society in the Capitol Hill Second Ward in Salt Lake City.