Mark Albright is the president of the Washington DC South mission and shares these missionary stories with Meridian Magazine. This letter comes from Jim Goodfellow.
If you want to share a missionary story, send it to President Albright by clicking on the “email author button” by the title of the article. Please note the names of new converts and investigators may be changed to maintain privacy.
Dear President Albright,
I arrived in the Southern Far East Mission in December of 1957. I was released in December of 1960. My initial assignments were Hong Kong, Taipei, Taichung and Tainan. I was transferred from Tainan to Taipei in October of 1958. H. Grant Heaton was the mission president at that time. The Mission headquarters were located in Hong Kong so we saw very little of the mission president himself. The supervising elders and counselor to the mission president did an excellent job of guiding the missionaries between All-Taiwan Missionary Zone Conferences. However, when we were transferred to outlining cities we pretty much flew on our own. We rented an building, put up a sign, bought some chairs and started tracting. We began holding Sunday meetings the first Sunday after we entered a city.
Being transferred to Taipei was a different kind of experience. The Church was already established; we weren’t responsible for conducting Sunday Services and for the first time I was handed a list of existing contacts. When I took over Elder Poulter’s contacts I didn’t know that Hu Wei Yi spoke English. So we taught him in Chinese. It was comfortable for both of us to use Chinese.
At the time Brother Hu was still smoking and it took a little time for him to overcome the habit. He had wonderful classical music that we were privileged to listen to each time we went to teach him.
Hu Wei Yi was a very humble person. He asked interesting and often penetrating questions. Often I did not know the answer to his questions and explained that I would research the answers and bring them back to him. I had no knowledge that Elder Poulter had provided any gospel books to him previously, nor did he volunteer that he in fact possessed the LDS books. I am fairly certain that he had not read them at the time as it wasn’t apparent that he had a steeped understanding of the restored gospel at the time of our teaching. He was always kind, serious and gentle in his probing for understanding. He accepted the gospel as we explained it but was always interested in a thorough understanding, which was unusual for investigators. He attended church regularly with his daughter Hu Tai Li but Sister Hu, as I recall, did not come with him at the time. The church building was a considerable distance from his home.
At that time we had many investigators and were very busy. My companions and I baptized 12 converts between November 1958 and February of 1959 and left our replacement elders with a full contingent of investigators when I was transferred to Hsin Chu. I served with Elder Poulter in the Hsin Chu Branch. The church in Taiwan was making wonderful strides with the opening of each new branch.
It wasn’t until 1967 that I read in the Church News that Hu Wei Yi was the translator of the Book of Mormon. What a wonderful and uplifting spirit filled my soul as I realized that I had taught and baptized the person who had translated the Book of Mormon from English to Chinese. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and awe. Approximately one quarter of the earth’s population are Chinese. I could hardly believe it. When we went about teaching the gospel, working diligently and stumbling through the process of opening new branches we had no concept of what impact we would have on future generation. When I arrived in Taiwan we had one branch and twenty members. When I left three years later we had 10 branches and 500 members. I was overwhelmed to see what had transpired in my absence when I returned in 2005. I found two of the members I had baptized working in the temple. Tears well up in my eyes as I think about the opportunity entrusted to such innocent, ignorant, but diligent young missionaries in those days.
I hopes this helps a little.
Brother Jim Goodfellow