time in the year 2003, Sun Fu and I made a trip to Singapore. I felt
the need to look up an aunt of my whom I believed might have the
genealogical record of my father's ancestors. Her late husband
uncle whom refused to let me have a copy of the genealogical record
about 25 years ago when I was working with the Genealogical
Society of Utah during my high school holidays. Many attempts had been
made since by my brother Roy to obtain the records. This time I arrived
at my aunt's home quite late at night. She was alone and her son and
daughter-in-law weren't home yet. We chatted a little and I found out
that she had a photo-copy of the record and was willing to give to me.
She explained that the original record was kept somewhere and it would
take too much effort for her to locate it. I was more than delighted to
have the copy! One of my uncles had taken the trouble to hand copy with
chinese brush from the master record that is supposedly still kept in
today. In those days (before WWII), many of my Dad's cousins decided to
migrate to Singapore and Malaya in search for better life. They needed
the genealogy to continue in a foreign land and had take the trouble to
hand copy and create one for their decendents in the new homeland. I am
glad they did, even though they were not from my father's direct line,
about four generations back they would have shared one line. So I was
elated to go home with whatever was in my hand that night.
Life got busy and the incident was almost forgotten until I was
attending a family history fireside at Church one Saturday evening
months later in 2004. I became very motivated when I spoke to Brother
Chin from Hong Kong after the meeting. When I went home that night, I
tried to locate the long forgotten record but was unable to find it.
During the subsequent weeks that ran into months, I looked around the
house in places where I thought the record might have been kept. On
Sunday, 13 June, the records surfaced when I was clearing some papers
from the table. I was eager to get all the children in bed that night.
I knew I had to spend some time alone to read through those complicated
Chinese characters. By the time I set down in my bedroom, it was
midnight and everyone was sound asleep. It was to be a night that I
will never forget.
The pages were written and photo copied in such a manner that got me
really confused. In my heart, I pleaded for divine guidance to help me
understand what I was reading. Soon, I was able to solve the puzzle and
things began to make chronological sense to me. About fifteen years
ago, a good friend of ours, Richard Ang, made a special day trip from
Singapore to Kuala Lumpur with the sole purpose of teaching me how to
extract useful information from Chinese genealogy. I was able to do
quite a bit of family file for Sun Fu's family with Richard's help. Now
I was on my own and I needed someone to help me. It is hard to relate
the incident without having tears welling up in my eyes. Sun Fu was
fast asleep but I felt at that time that someone else was with me in
that room. I was guided it and my mind became
alert. At that point, I felt the overwhelming need to kneel in
prayer--for I knew a heavy responsibility had befallen upon my
shoulder. I soon found myself writing on family group sheets those
names of my forebears. By the time I was done it was 4am in the
morning. I felt I had taken a very long trip back in time.
of July this year, I was eager to bring these record to the Hawaii
Temple to have ordinance done for them. However, things were just
begining! Sun Fu, Su and I went to the temple on 27 July and
found out that more ground work needed to be done before the
list of names could be made "temple ready" for ordinances. Because
these names were in Chinese, they had to be entered in the latest
PAF5 faimly history computer program using the Chinese version. I was
disappointed for a few seconds, but was not totally disheartened. On
that same day there was a group of 300 visiting Chinese students who
were converts to the Church while overseas and now living in China.
Among them 40 had limited temple recommend to do baptism for the dead.
That morning would be a busy day for the Hawii Temple. Others may see
this as a co-incidental occurance, but to me, it bore much
significance. My heart was filled with hope for the Chinese people and
many who are on the other side of the veil who were eagerly waiting for
work to be done for them. I silently acknowledged the responsibility
that would be mine to be part of that great work.
Since no one in the family history center in Hawaii could use the
Chinese PAF5 program, I decided to give it a try when we visited Salt
Lake City. On Friday, 30July, I met up with Melvin Thatcher, whom I
worked for during my high school days. Its a long way from years gone
by! I now have as many children as he has!
Mel introduced me to Grace Chen who's a missionary devoted to Chinese
family history serving in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
I spent the entire afternoon learning the PAF5 program, asking endless
question about the program and about what I was reading from my family
genealogy. Understanding the old Chinese genealogy required more than
what my 10 years of Chinese school education in Singapore had taught
me. I am forever grateful that my first exposure to such records came
early in my youthful years while working for Mel and further
guidance was given me by Richard Ang. Another important person that I
met was sister Chen Mei-gui in Taipei Temple May 1990, when I brought
Sun Fu's family file to her. With all these extra foundation work, I
was able to work with much ease with sister Grace Chen and I must say I
learned even more from her this time around. Other than receiving help
in extracting names and deciphering dates and events, I came to
understand the things that took place in some of my forebears' lives. I
had come to know a great deal better about my distant past and felt the
aspirations that my late father had for his children and grand
children. Coming from a line of scholars, my father naturally had
great hopes that at least one of his seven children would be a scholar.
He had lost both his parents within one week when he was barely 11
years-old. Education was prematurely cut short for him. In my memory of
him, I could still see how he would self-taught himself English after
work late into the nights. His diligence inspired me to exel in school.
The hours spent with Grace Chen was most rewarding. I managed over 20
names that afternoon. Some may think this was no big deal, but learning
how to use the graphic tablet was quite tricky. I must thank my husband
for keeping me abreast with computer technology all these years and
thank my parents for giving me a Chinese education. Grace was being so
thoughtful when she saw my eagerness to continue the work with her
assistance. She agreed to meet me the next day even though it was her
day off. I went through the entire process of extracting information,
entering data to submitting PAF File online to the Hong Kong Family
History Center for temple readiness with Grace by my side. The
sad news here was I would not be able to get the ordinance work done
during this trip. But I was not particulary disappointed. I knew some
time in the very near future, I would be enjoying another family file
experience because of the current unforseen delay.
My next destination after Salt Lake City was Seattle. My brother Roy,
was eager to see what work I had accomplished. When we sat and went
through the things that I brought along, our attention now was
focused on a photo copied page of genealogy that Mom had brought home
from her trip back to Hainan Island. She only made copy of the page
where my grand father 's name appeared and that was enough for me for
the moment. There was another piece of family group sheet that I made
for my paternal grandfather. This information became really valuable
now because it was through my late father's narration that these
information were collected. We made the decision then to put these
names into his computers using the PAF5 program that we brought from
SLC. It was really tricky to get the thing working and we finally
roped in the help from Pricilla's sister-in-law, Joyce Lau. Speaking to
Joyce on the phone, I did not know who she was and I asked some
silly question like, "Are you Asian?" When I finally realized she was
the same Joyce who came to the Seattle airport 21 years ago with her
then 4 small children to pick Sun Fu and I up, and whom we had
corrensponded every year since, I was both filled with embarrassment
and joy! She is one amazing woman. Not knowing how to write Chinese
character had not hindered her from doing the Lau family's genealogy.
She had set up her own computer at home with the PAF5 program and was
ready to teach me how to use it. She came to Roy's home that morning
and spent over an hour to finally get the laptop to work with PAF5.
There was no graphic tablet, but we use the touch pad on the laptop.
The whole thing turned out to be a great blessing in disguise. I
carried the computer with me and worked in the car when we were driving
to do some sight-seeing. Sun Fu's friend from the Toast Master, Lianne,
was with us and she was all eager to go out and see the city.
Sight-seeing amazingly became unimportant to me during this time when I
felt the great urgency to complete both my paternal and maternal grand
parents' family file. At the end of the whole excercise, I had
entered 10 male and 15 female names. We were ready to go to the temple
the next day to do the work--but first we must visit the family history
center to get the names temple ready.
Sun Fu, Priscilla and I visited two different family
history centres on Aug 5 morning. There were no one in the first who
could help us get the names temple ready so we headed out to the second
one. We made a phone call just to check that there will be someone
there who could help us. We were lucky to get Bro. Dick Coltrin. He agreed to stay
longer than his shift hours to wait and help us with whatever question
we might have. It turned out to be a very exciting experience for me.
Everyone who helped me in the center that morning were not supposed to
be there but by some chanced arrangement, they changed their schedule
and were there for me at the right time. When I went there with
the laptop and my diskettes, we found out that the computer systems
read any Chinese characters. The contingency decided upon was for me to
reenter all the names in Hanyu Pinyin (or Romanized Chinese).
Fortunately, there were only a total of twenty four names and I did it
in about an hour's time. Finally we had the diskettes to go and we
headed out to pick Roy up from his office at Merill Lynch and
then to the Seattle Temple. There was no time for us to have a proper
lunch and the apples, banana and mixed nuts turned out to be life-saver
for the day!
At the Seattle Temple, we were obviously late. The workers had been
waiting for us and we eagerly handed our temple-ready diskette so they
could print out the pink and blue cards. Alas, only some of the names
could be read by the computer! This was unbelievable! We had come a
very long way to get stuck again. In my heart, I uttered a plea with
Heavenly Father to clear the way for us. Again, by some miracle, the
worker managed to fish out the information from my back-up diskette.
The temple-ready process had to be repeated again using her computer
and were we glad to see the cards finally coming out from the printer!
Finally we were at the baptism font. Roy performed the baptisms while
Sun Fu, Priscilla and I acted as proxy. The joy I felt that special day
goes beyond my ability to express. This much I can say, the work we do
for our kindred past is real.
In retrospect, the other group of names that I sent to the Hong Kong
Temple were also baptised on the same day, 5 Aug 2004 in the Hong Kong
Temple. It was done without my prior knowledge. There must have been a
reason for the urgency that I felt
during the past few months and in particular, during the short 3 days I
spent in Seattle. I am glad I responded to that feeling. The work still
continues, much, much more is needed to be done. This experience had
helped me gain a new perspective of the gospel. The work for our
forebears is real and their influence can truly be felt even beyond the
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