British Columbia, and particularly Vancouver and the Lower Mainland have become a prolific melting pot, as people from many lands immigrate here, hoping to find a better life. Today, when
we went to our stake center to watch General Conference, we found that 5 rooms throughout the building had been set up with monitors for broadcasting all sessions in 6 different languages: English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, and Korean. Some of the Saints here joined the Church in their homelands, but many others have come from the efforts of our missionaries who are here teaching the gospel in all those languages, except Russian. Some of them are teaching immigrants from their own countries, in their native tongues, but many more come from somewhere else, and learn the languages from scratch. Off the top of my head, I can think of missionaries from USA, Canada, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Palau, Mexico, Brazil, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Phillipines, Micronesia, Australia, and England.
I think I posted this photo before, but these two are from Taiwan and Hong Kong. They are companions and teach in Cantonese and Mandarin, and somehow they communicate with each other and with the rest of us as well. Obviously, English becomes our common bond. So, some of these young people have to learn to function in two languages that are not their native tongue.
These are our homies, the Korean speakers, pictured here with Mission President Burt and his wife, Leslie. On the left is Elder Kim, born in Korea, but moved with his family to Nampa, Idaho when he was about 10 years old. So he is fluent in Korean and English. Love this kid. He keeps me afloat at church as he translates what Korean I don't get, which is most of it. A funny little story about Elder Kim: knowing that there are also a lot of Chinese people here, and that it is difficult to tell the two apart, I asked him how they find the Koreans when they are making public contacts. He told me today's Koreans are quite trendy, and for some reason, they love New Balance shoes. So, these Elders just go out among the crowds and strike up conversations with people wearing New Balance shoes. Next is Elder Okamoto. That's Japanese, right? Well, his mother is American, but his father (never been in his life) was half Korean and half Japanese. Elder O grew up in Las Vegas where he joined the Church about two years ago. He arrived here from the Korean MTC (Provo) about 3 weeks ago. He already speaks better Korean than I do. Next is Elder Porter, just a good ole white boy from S. Utah, who has been here just over a year, and is doing very well for having started the language from scratch. Speaking of scratch, he is a scratch golfer who has a golf scholarship waiting for him when he gets home. Regardless of nationality, language, or assignment, what these young missionaries all seem to have in common is a strong testimony in the truthfulness of the gospel and a deep desire to share their message with the world. They are much more prepared and focused than I remember missionaries being when I was in their shoes 45 years ago. I have yet to meet any who are not intent in their purpose and who do not reflect the joy that comes from knowing the truth and being confident in your purpose. With their limited life experience, they can be a little scatterbrained when it comes to driving mission vehicles, sometimes presenting headaches for the fleet coordinator (me,) but they make up for it in spirit and motivation. I am confident that the future of the Church and the world is in good hands.