Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Story of Paul- Li Cong- from the best learning center in Odense, Denmark

Summer has come to an end and fall has filled the Hans Christian Andersen Saturday market with pumpkins and sun flowers.
We are on our way to the cold side of Denmark. Rain and wind howl through the colorful trees. I need to catch a few pictures before the leaves are gone. Even the ivy on the old brick buildings has turned to red and gold. We still have some little pots of porch flowers on the cobblestone walks.
About two months ago we met a young man from southern China. He had been in Denmark for only two or three months. His Chinese name is
Li Cong but here in Denmark, he likes to be called "Paul."

Paul was taught some fine principles at an early age. His parents taught him to be respectful and kind. He comes from a city where people are friendly and love to talk. He felt very lonely here because he didn't speak Danish.
Paul's grandmother is a devout Budhist. She prays for hours daily and is a spiritual leader and guide of his family. The whole family lives in the beautiful city of Fuzhou.. a harbor city with manicured gardens, fountains, and temples. In a country where there is a high price to pay for more than one child in the family, Paul is an only child..a precious son. There are many new things that we have learned from Paul, and many new things that he has learned from us.
Paul learned about God from his Grandmother. I had the privilege of introducing Paul to Jesus Christ..for the first time. I started with the humble birth of the Savior. We felt the spirit of Christmas in the middle of August.

This is a map of Paul's home town. He misses his home, and sometimes finds life in Denmark to be full of stumbling blocks.
Paul's family taught him how to pray- sweet, sincere prayers. He has been struggling with high tuition fees and did not want to face his teacher on the first day of school. He prayed that his teacher wouldn't be there that day.
Surprisingly, he was not. Paul was thrilled. He thought his prayer had been answered. That night, when the Elders taught him (in our Outreach Center Basement) Paul thought maybe he would pray that his "tuition- seeking" teacher would (maybe) go to the hospital instead of being healthy enough to attend class. We suggested that his prayers should be directed toward solving his tuition problem, not getting rid of the teacher.

Paul has learned to love the teachings of Jesus Christ. He comes to the center almost every day with questions and a soft heart. His parents taught him long before he came here- not to drink or smoke.

He loves to play basketball. On Saturdays, he, the Elders, and all kinds of guys (from China, India, Africa, and Denmark) gather down by the harbor to play.

He has come to our house for "friendship Family Nights" with candle lit dinners and American Football in our backyard.

Here are Elder Francis (from Pleasant Grove-Utah),
Paul(from the Fuljan province of China),
Elder Valgren (from Denmark),
and JJ (from Greenland)--- after a night of American football.
Paul asked if he could introduce us to Chines food from his cooking for us at the center. We went shopping with him at our local Asian Markets to pick up won ton wrappers, ground pork, green onions, dried, clear chinese seaweed flowers, sweet chunks of colored sugar, lots of ginger, and all kinds of unusual ingredients--including a "secret" spice" that he brought from China. We gathered in our Relief Society kitchen upstairs.
Our downstairs kitchen was way to small for this project.

Elder Wilberg, Paul, Elder Clayton, and JJ all learned from Paul, how to make real won ton soup, and icy cold seaweed flower soup dessert with liche nuts and peanuts. I made Chinese (American) Chicken salad topped with fried won ton strips. (I'll add the recipe later) This meal took many hours.

When our family night group gathered for dinner that night they tasted and smelled many new and unusual flavors from China. Thank you Paul, for bringing China to Odense.

A few weeks ago, Paul decided that he wanted to be baptized. We were out of town when the Elders called us with the good news. When they asked him who he wanted to baptize him--He said, "Sister Wilberg" would be his first choice.
It was a great compliment but Paul needed someone who had Priesthood authority to do this important work.

We have been studying about modern day prophets during the summer.
Paul has enjoyed hearing about them. When he was asked who he wanted to speak at his baptism, he replied " Thomas S. Monson" would be his first choice. But President Monson was not able to come.

Paul's favorite church song is "Follow the Prophet". We sang all nine verses at the center for Family Home Evening last month. He took home three copies of the song to share with his Chinese and Indian roommates. He said that he wants to sing it in the shower and on his bike on the way to school. (If you click on the lyrics you can sing it will stay in your head all day.)
You might try clicking on the second page to find a new verse and chorus designed especially for Jonah... and sing "Swallow the prophet, Swallow the Prophet, Swallow the prophet, don't go astray.."

About three weeks ago, Paul was baptized. JJ (a member for six months, from Greenland) baptized him. This was JJ's first baptism as a Priesthood holder. His little sister (left) and his mother on the right, who had never been to any Mormon church, were visiting from Greenland. His mother proudly watched her son, all dressed in white, having Priesthood authority- baptize Paul and celebrate this great occasion.

Elders Valgreen, Clayton, Paul, JJ, and Elders Barnard, and Francis.. all gather for a traditional picture in the front hall in the Odense Church Building. They all have enjoyed teaching and learning from Paul during these past weeks.

Elder Clayton, one of Paul's best friends, spoke about "Baptism" during the meeting. JJ, and Elder's Barnard, Francis, and Clayton sang a children's song about baptism.
Elder Barnard spoke to Paul about the gift of the Holy Ghost.

After Paul was baptized, he also spoke. He told us how much he appreciated Jesus Christ and he gave thanks for the many things that he had learned in the past few months. We are so happy to have Paul as our friend and new member here at the center.

Thank you, Paul for giving us the opportunity to teach you. These Elders will never forget this event. We are looking forward to tomorrow, when you will receive the Priesthood for the first time.

Elder Barnard and Clayton ordered an English, Chinese Bible as a gift for Paul from America.

Sister Hatton, Sister Davis, Sister Carroll, the Elders and friends enjoyed the day with Paul.

JJ gave Paul a little keychain with the Name of Jesus engraved on it. He also gave him a card that records the meaning of the name "Paul."
"Paul" is an Israeli name that means- "small one, lively, happy, a positive person, a person who will light up your day...Paul is a name to be proud of."
This is a pretty good description of this good young man.
Elder Clayton and Elder Barnard were transferred from Odense only days before Paul was baptized. They were the Elders who spent the most time with him, preparing him for this important day. They were able to return for Paul's baptism. We all miss them. They gave us their all while they were here.

Paul, "Li Cong" has been an amazing student and friend during these past few months. I have had an opportunity to teach him, in English, many things, from the stories of Jesus, to Joseph Smith finding the golden plates in the Hill Cumorah. The two of us have begun an "Introduction to the Book of Mormon" class with two students who read together every night..
the two students are Paul and me. I think it is the smallest Institute class in the world. Thank you, Paul for bringing your soft, honest heart to the best learning center in the basement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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