Lee Tin-wai of Aberdeen, Hong Kong

“Lee Tin-wai of Aberdeen, Hong Kong,” Friend, Feb. 2003, 20

Making Friends:
Lee Tin-wai of Aberdeen, Hong Kong*

In the big swimming pool near the South China Sea, Lee Tin-wai (8) giggled and splashed with Amy (10) and Laura (8) Dunford. Tin-wai had met her new friends from California just two days before.

Chatting by the pool were their mothers, who had known each other for eighteen years. Lee Liana and Nanette Dunford were talking about when they had met, at Sister Lee’s baptism. Sister Dunford, a missionary in Hong Kong, helped teach her the discussions for new members.

“Tin-wai” means “wisdom.” True to her name, Tin-wai is gaining wisdom not only in the gospel, but in her schoolwork and talents as well. In Primary, her favorite things to learn are the Articles of Faith. There is only one other child in her CTR class, but Tin-wai’s cousin, who is not a member, enjoys coming to Primary and other Church activities with her.

Occasionally Church activities are held in the big Kom Tong, a building named after the businessman who built it in 1914. The Kom Tong has special meaning to the Lee family and to most members of the Church in Hong Kong. In 1960 President Gordon B. Hinckley, then Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, helped purchase it for the Church—only three years after the first missionaries arrived in Hong Kong. Tin-wai’s entire family was baptized in the beautiful baptismal font there.

Besides being used for Church meetings, this old mansion is now the headquarters for the Asia Area of the Church. Since Sister Lee works for the Church in the Asia Area offices, Tin-wai has had the opportunity to meet several General Authorities when she visits her mother there. She describes them as “big, strong, and kind.” They shake her hand and ask her questions.

Like most children in Hong Kong, Tin-wai wears a uniform to school. Hers is a white dress and socks, black shoes, and a yellow hair ribbon. Each school day at 7:00 A.M., Tin-wai runs to the school bus from her second-story flat. It is a 10-minute ride to Chi Nam Primary School. After returning at 3:30 P.M., she studies English; two Chinese languages, including her native Cantonese; math; science; religion; and other subjects. Her mother says, “Occasionally she has Chinese calligraphy—using Chinese pen and ink. That is her challenge. She does not like it at all.”

Computer use is her favorite subject in school. But she wants to be an artist. “I like to draw girls,” she says.

“She likes drawing cartoons, also, and designing the conversation of the cartoon characters,” Sister Lee says. “She could read or draw all day long.”

The Lee home has a big bookshelf filled with Tin-wai’s books. She has many favorite books. She reads picture scripture books and especially enjoys the children’s section of the Liahona magazine.

Like her father, Tin-wai loves to sing. She has made up lyrics in both English and Chinese and composed the accompaniment on their piano. She has been playing the piano for two years.

Sometimes, however, she would rather just play. She likes computer games, role playing, collecting cards, and a marble game her mother brought from Indonesia. “American jumping gyms” (trampolines) are a big draw for her at amusement centers. She is a good joke teller but never wants to hurt people’s feelings.

“She is very sensitive to people’s feelings, comments, and even gestures,” Sister Lee says. “She will cry when she reads a sad story.”

The Lee family has had a variety of small pets. Grace, Tin-wai’s older sister, named their three green turtles Blessings, Prosperity, and Long Life. Later, two hamsters were named for characters in a Japanese cartoon. Now they also have several goldfish.

Tin-wai’s favorite outing is going with her family to Ocean Park, where there are rides, dolphin and wild animal shows, panda bears, a big aquarium, and an aerial tram with spectacular views of Hong Kong and the South China Sea. Going to the beach is another favorite outing for her and her family.

And then there is food. “Chinese people like to eat!” Sister Lee says. “The best part of family home evening is eating dessert. Sometimes Grace or Tin-wai prepares it.” One of Tin-wai’s best memories about Salt Lake City, Utah, is going to the 24-hour “all-you-can-eat ice cream” restaurant at midnight, Hong Kong time.

A Christmas highlight for the Lee family is singing carols and reading about Jesus’ birth. Family scripture reading, however, is not limited to Christmas. They read nightly year-round. Tin-wai’s favorite scripture is 1 Nephi 3:7. She is already showing that she, too, can “go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.”

“She used this scripture to give a talk on ‘How We Follow the Prophet,’” Sister Lee said. “She did it all by herself, and it was a very good talk.”

Tin-wai sings with the Church’s Hong Kong Junior Choir. They will soon give a public performance at the Hong Kong Culture Center. Tin-wai is no ordinary singer. Her solo voice is heard on the Chinese translation of the Children’s Songbook tapes, singing “I Am like a Star” and “I Will Try to Be Reverent.”

She has a special reverence for temples. She loved walking around the Salt Lake Temple and Laie Hawaii Temple grounds. But the temple she treasures the most is the Hong Kong China Temple. She was only four years old when this first temple in China was completed. She was able to go inside it before it was dedicated. Sometimes she comes to the waiting room when her parents attend the temple. She definitely wants to marry in the temple when she grows up.

Photographed by Nanette Larsen Dunford

Amy and Laura Dunford, and Lee Tin-wai in her swimming pool

The Lee family: Grace (15), Brother Lee, Sister Lee, Tin-wai, and Joseph (13)

Brother and Sister Lee at Ocean Park

Western Hong Kong Island from Ocean Park

Tin-wai and Laura and Amy Dunford with crafts Tin-wai has made

Sister Lee, Tin-wai, and Brother Lee on their piano bench

Sister Dunford, Laura Dunford, Sister Lee, Tin-wai, Brother Lee, and Amy and Brother Dunford

Brother Dunford, Amy Dunford, Laura Dunford, Tin-wai, and Sister Lee at the Lee home