Me, a Pioneer?
August 2002

“Me, a Pioneer?” Ensign, Aug. 2002, 11

Me, a Pioneer?

When I was baptized as a young girl in Taiwan, the first Latter-day Saint in my family, I didn’t realize I had become a pioneer.

I was 14 in the summer of 1957. One morning at home in Tainan, Taiwan, I heard the children outside yelling, “Mei Kuo Jen! Mei Kuo Jen!” (American! American!) When I went out, two Americans stood outside our front gate. They introduced themselves in Mandarin, saying they represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and wanted to tell us about their teachings. My older sister, who lived 20 miles away, had given them my address, telling them I was interested in learning English and might be interested in their message. However, since my family had been Buddhists for generations, we had never heard of this church before. I said, “Wait a moment. I need to ask my parents for permission.” I went to my parents and explained why these Americans were at our front gate. To my surprise, my parents let them into our home.

The missionaries taught us about the Prophet Joseph Smith, who went into a grove of trees to pray to know which church to join. God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to him. And he was only 14—just my age. I was impressed. The missionaries taught me and my parents how to pray, and for the first time in my life I began to pray. I felt warm inside but didn’t know why. The missionaries continued to come and taught us six discussions. Then one visit, they asked my parents to accept the challenge to be baptized. My parents were afraid of making a change and asked the elders not to come back.

The Answer Came

A few months later another set of missionaries came. My parents did not let them in our home but accepted from them the address of the church building where they taught English lessons. This was a turning point in my life. I began to learn English, but I was also able to hear the missionary discussions again. Eventually, my parents found out and forbade me to go back. But by now I already had a happy feeling in my heart when I thought about the Prophet Joseph Smith seeing God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I asked Heavenly Father to help me know it was true. The answer came; my heart was full of joy.

Since I now knew Joseph Smith was a prophet, I also believed the Book of Mormon was true. Even though the Book of Mormon had not yet been translated into Chinese and my English wasn’t good enough to read it in that language, the missionaries had given me pamphlets in Chinese. I read them again and again, and I knew what they said was true. I made my decision. I was ready to be baptized. I prayed to Heavenly Father to help me, since I knew my parents had said that if I joined the Church I would not be their daughter anymore.

I prayed very hard, asking Heavenly Father to soften my parents’ hearts. He answered my prayers, and in September 1958 I was baptized. What a beautiful day it was! I do not have the words to describe the joy I felt that day. My parents did not come, but when I came home, they did not scold me or get angry. I was grateful for that.

Soon after my baptism, the missionaries told me that Elder Mark E. Petersen (1900–1984) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was coming to Taipei. They asked me if I wanted to go. Right away I thought about the Apostle Peter in the New Testament and realized what a great opportunity it would be for me to meet an Apostle. I went to Taipei. After the meeting, I met Elder Petersen and his wife. They were very kind to me. I felt my blessings were great, and I wanted to shout for joy!

Sharp Words

Unfortunately my parents grew upset again about my becoming a Latter-day Saint. If I blessed my food, my brother took it away from me. If I went to church too much, I got in trouble. Except for my two younger sisters, it seemed everyone in my family was against me and had sharp words for me. It was very difficult. They even read my diary. One of the most heartbreaking things happened when my father tore apart my Bible. I remember how I cried for days afterward. Now I had no scriptures to read. Countless nights I lay on my bed facing the wall and praying to my Heavenly Father.

My life at that time seemed very lonely. Meanwhile my father was out of work. My older brother became the breadwinner, so every child had to obey him. For this reason, I asked Heavenly Father to help me find a job. When I did, it was a better-paying job than my big brother’s, so our lives became a little better. I was also able to help support my family.

In 1964 when I was called to be a missionary, I quit my job. Of course my parents were unhappy about it. My boss said I didn’t know what I was doing. In fact, most of my friends thought the same way and tried to talk me out of it. But my two younger sisters had grown to love the gospel, and before I left home they were baptized. Within a week I was on my way to Taipei to report to the mission home. Soon I was out sharing the gospel with people.

Illness and a Dream

I was having the best time of my life, when suddenly I became very ill. One night I dreamed my deceased grandfather came to see me. It was so real. I thought I was going to die soon. My companion sat by my bed crying because I was so weak. The next morning, I wrote a letter to my parents to let them know how I felt about the gospel. I wanted to bear my testimony to them and tell them how much I loved them in case I died. In the letter I told them of my dream of my grandfather. However, I didn’t tell them how ill I was because I knew they would want me to come home, and I didn’t want to leave my mission.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my father was also very ill. He had been lying sick in bed for several months. He could barely move. My mom asked all kinds of doctors for help. She even went to the Buddhist temple to ask for help. Nothing happened. In fact, my father got even sicker. Two sister missionaries talked to my mom about the healing power of priesthood blessings, so my mom asked the elders to give my father a priesthood blessing. Right after that, my father began to get well. It was during that time that my letter arrived. My dad’s heart was softened as he read about my dream of my grandfather coming to see me. He felt it was true. My testimony helped him to decide to join the Church, but I did not know that at the time.

During the following month, I got better. One day my companion told me we had an assignment to go to Tainan. I was shocked. I told her I did not want to go home. She said, “We are not going to your home. We need to visit the Tainan branch.” I felt very strange. During the six-hour train ride, my emotions were like a roller coaster as I wondered why. When we walked inside the Tainan branch, I saw my parents both dressed in white baptismal clothes. What a wonderful surprise! I thanked Heavenly Father for helping my parents gain a testimony of the gospel.

Blessings of the Temple

Today I have a family of my own. I have been blessed with a loving husband who holds the priesthood. Now Taipei has a beautiful temple. My husband and I have been sealed for time and all eternity. I have been sealed to my parents also.

My husband and I both realize that as the first in our families to join the Church, we faced challenges similar to the early pioneers. We have had to struggle against the generations of tradition. It has not been easy, but with our Heavenly Father’s help we have been blessed.

Gaining a Testimony

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

“Logic itself affirms that a loving Heavenly Father would not abandon His children without providing a way for them to learn of Him. One of the great messages of the Restoration is that the windows of heaven are open. All who seek to know the truth may, through revelations of the Spirit, know for themselves.”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Pure Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 23.

  • Mei Hsiang Moyer is a member of the Pekin Ward, Peoria Illinois Stake.

Illustrated by Gregg Thorkelson