Ch. 58 -- On Wings of Angels

On Wings of Angels
(C) Steven G. O'Dell -- 2011

"Who are these that fly as the birds from the window sills...."

In stark contrast to how he had been lulled to sleep by the constant thrum of the jet engines, Hu Ming Lao had been awakened with a start by an unusual dream. Two young men, dressed in dark suits and looking very proper, stood waiting for him in an airport terminal. They were not at all like the typical Americans he had seen in films, but had a defined air of seriousness and purpose about them. He had marked it off to being a by-product of his first trans-oceanic flight. But now, as he entered the San Francisco terminal, here stood two men nearly identical in appearance to those he had seen in his dream. How was this possible?

As Ming Lao walked past them, he felt a sense of heightened awareness unlike anything he had ever felt before. There was something about them that made him want to stop and talk to them, but he had to get to his parent's home as soon as he could. Aside from visiting them and attending to the business he was assigned to by his company, he had precious little time to himself. His stay would be short enough without wasting time in such idle pursuits as talking to strangers in an air terminal.

Gathering his baggage, Ming Lao went directly to the loading area in front of the terminal and hailed a cab to take him to his parent's home. His mind was out-of-sync from the drastic time zone change and all he wanted was to rest, but thoughts of work pressed themselves upon him. There was much to do in the short time he would be here. He must make the best use of his time.

As the sights flew by the cab, there appeared quite suddenly two young men on bicycles, dressed in suits, just as the men he had seen in the terminal. He craned his neck to watch them as long as he could, wondering who they might be and now beginning to think that perhaps there was some significance to the dream he had experienced. He was not a superstitious man, but Ming Lao was also not a foolish man and he now pondered the meaning of his dream. But soon enough, he was at the home of his parents and sister, who had moved to America a few years before. This was the first time he had seen them since their relocation to the States and the excitement was palpable for all. Exchanges of hugs and greetings were made and the honored son was ushered into the home of his forebears.

"How have you been, son?" His father smiled proudly at his progeny.

"Very well, thank you. I could scarcely wait until I arrived to see you."

"We are so proud of you, Ming." His mother wiped a tear from her eye and she smiled all the more widely. "You have studied hard and done well for yourself and you will make a great contribution to the world in your efforts."

"I will do my best, Mother."

The questions and answers flew rapidly back and forth and eventually settled upon the subject of his sister and her new pursuits. It became known that her parents were concerned by the fact that she had been meeting with some unusual people and learning of a religion entirely foreign to their own beliefs. Ming titled his head at this, wondering what manner of philosophy they must teach. He was to find out soon enough, for that very evening his sister invited him to join her in a discussion with these mysterious strangers.

Ming was first struck with the appearance of these young men. They were again apparently clones of those he had seen twice before since arriving in America, and identical in dress to those he had seen in his dream. Now Ming was shaken as to the meaning of the dream. Was it a warning? Was it a sign to direct him to or away from these men? But he listened intently until he could know for certain.

"We know that this teaching is entirely new to you and differs from your own traditions." He who spoke, addressed Jin directly. "And yet it is of such importance that we must share it with all who are willing to listen."

The feeling of sincerity was unmistakable, but Ming knew that sincerity alone was no substitute for being correct.

"Do you honor your ancestors as we do?" The question was direct and would tell Ming a lot about the philosophy of this religion.

"Very much so," replied the second of the two. "We do works for them in our temples that they cannot do for themselves. In this way we bind them to us with a welded link that cannot be broken in the eternities."

Ming sat a little taller and leaning slightly forward, with greater attention now.

"To what type of works do you refer?" His English was sufficiently good to understand what they had suggested.

"Our dead have, in many cases, passed on without being able to do for themselves the works of salvation and exaltation that would allow them entry into the kingdom of God in the eternities. We, the living, have been instructed to perform those works in their names, in our temples. These include baptisms for our dead, washings and annointings for their sanctification, endowment of spiritual gifts, bestowal of necessary priesthood offices and authorities, and the rites of sealings as families and in the covenant of eternal marriage. There we also learn of the creation of our world and of our purpose in it, as well as the necessary signs and tokens to enter the presence of God in the hereafter."

Ming leaned even further forward and took all of this in, as if he were a sponge.

"I know somewhat of the Christian religion, but this seems to differ from the common teachings I have heard of. How do you know these things to be right and proper? How do you know them to be required, in order to please your God?"

Ming's sister smiled faintly at the question. Her brother was truly interested and did not dismiss these teachings easily, although his questions were deep and testing in their nature.

"You are correct. These teachings are unique in the Christian world, but they are the teachings of old, as in the ancient church that Jesus Christ instituted in his own time. They have been restored to us in modern times by a prophet chosen of God to receive revelation for Christ's church and people. That prophet was Joseph Smith, who saw God and his son, Jesus the Messiah, in the year 1820, in New York state. In a brief instant, many enduring questions concerning the nature of God were answered. The world again would know of the nature of God and their own relationship to him as his children."

"Elder, this is of great interest, to be sure, but it is indeed quite a world apart from our own teachings." As he sat back again, Ming's manner seemed to suggest that he would need to ponder such things for a very long time before he would ever commit himself to believing them.

"Not so different as you might think. I have done some research on the traditions of your homeland and have been pleased to find things that would support our own teachings. Perhaps you have heard of the tradition that was practiced in your homeland until the rise of the Communists around the turn of the last century. I refer to the 'Worship at the Gate Ceremony', practiced for thousands of years until it was relatively recently outlawed by the revolution, and signifying the very first man and woman praying at the Gates of the Garden of Eden when they were cast into the world. Even the Chinese characters for this tradition portray the man and woman in a kneeling position at the gates and worshipping a divine being."

Ming had indeed been taught of such things, although it was not in school that he had learned it, but from his grandfather and father, in the quiet and privacy of their home. His interest was again piqued, that this young American would be aware of such ancient teachings from his homeland.

"You suggest that this tradition is in some way similar to your own stories from your holy book?"

"I do. I suggest that it is the identical story, preserved in your nation's traditions over thousands of years, until it was outlawed in the revolution."

Ming thought deeply upon these points. It made sense. He exchanged glances with his sister, who was nodding her head and smiling. It seemed that she was convinced of the truth of this claim, as he was now beginning to be.

"How may I know that this is so, and not just a theory?"

The first Elder again spoke. "The way to know is sure. You have the right to receive your own personal witness from God, by way of the Holy Ghost, a member of the Godhead. His specific mission is to witness the truth of such things to your spirit -- Spirit-to-spirit communication, that cannot be mistaken. Will you pray about this to know for yourself that it is true?"

"I am willing, but I do not know how to pray about this."

The Elders smiled in appreciation. "We will teach you how we have been instructed to pray. I know that as you do so sincerely, you will get your answer and know for yourself that it is true."

While Ming's days were filled with matters of business, his mind wandered often to the evenings in which he learned the new and wonderful ways of this God he had never before known. This religion seemed to have answers to many questions he had pondered concerning life and it seemed to place the previously floating pieces of his national traditions into their places in the grander picture. Jin felt as if he were becoming truly aware and informed of his purpose in life for the first time. He knew that his life was changing and would never again be the same. Even his parents had taken some interest, following the lead of their children.

When the time came for Ming to return to China, the Elders met with him again and his sister gave him a book with a blue cover, in which she had written her testimony of the teachings they had been discussing the last week. She cautioned him that he might need to keep the book secret, as best he could, due to regulations in China concerning such foreign philosophies. He vowed he would read it on the plane and digest as much of it as he could, in the event that it were taken from him.

The first Elder offered, "We would like to bless you that you will not have to turn over your Book of Mormon to the authorities. Do you have sufficient faith to believe this?"

Somewhere, deep inside, Ming felt the stirrings of a warmth that assured him things would be right and well for him. He nodded his assent and the Elders sat him down and laid hands upon his head. As they did so and the words were spoken over him, Ming felt as if a flow of cool water had washed over him from head to toe and a peace became infused within him such as he had never known. Somehow he knew without doubt that all would be well.

As he entered the gangway to board the plane, Ming looked back at his mother, father, sister and the two young men in dark suits who had permanently altered his life. It felt to Ming as if he gazed upon angels. He knew that his dream had come true and he would never again be the same. Perhaps when he again visited America, he could see for himself what wonders their temples held.

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