Tuesday, May 3, 2016

He knows us

Two years ago today, Jeremy, Taylor, Parker, Graci, Cali and Conner arrived home from China.  (I had traveled home a few days earlier to be with the kids at home.)  Our meeting at the airport was so joyous and sweet.  Sophi and Lexi were particularly excited to meet their new brother.  There is a little footage of this meeting included in the end of the documentary Find Me that can now be viewed HERE.  It was a beautiful day.

This morning I was thinking back to those first few months with Conner in our family, and I was reminded of what we have come to call "the noodle story."

We wanted Conner to learn about our Heavenly Father and His love for him.  Conner had not been taught about God while in China.  It was quite a foreign concept to him.  He had heard of Christianity but didn't know anything about it.  We tried to teach him on our own, but of course with limited language, we needed some help.  We decided to bring Conner to Temple Square where he could speak to missionaries in Mandarin.  (Temple Square has missionaries from all over the world.)  When we arrived, we asked if we could speak to some Mandarin speaking missionaries.  There are several of them there, but we know now that God lined us up with the perfect missionary for Conner.  When Sister Li walked out with her companion and began to talk to Conner, it was very soon evident that Conner was thrilled to be talking to her.  Within a minute or so, they were both jumping up and down as they realized they were both from Wuhan City.  It's quite unusual to have missionaries from mainland China, as there are very few Christians in China and prostelying is not allowed.  Most Mandarin speaking missionaries come from Taiwan or other areas.   You cannot imagine Conner's excitement to meet someone from his hometown.  At the time, he was feeling very homesick and lonely, so being able to converse with Sister Li in their provincial dialect was truly a Godsend.  One thing that they talked about in this specific conversation was "Wuhan noodles," which are spicy peanut noodles specific to Wuhan.  Conner and Sister Li commiserated about how much they missed them.

As we made subsequent trips to visit Sister Li and learn about the gospel, Conner was very hung up on one point of doctrine.  He couldn't understand how God could know him personally with all of the other people in the world.  It was a concept that he really struggled to believe even though he said he wanted to.

One Sunday, we were supposed to meet with Sister Li at 4:00.  Sister Li later told us that she had prayed mightily that morning that she could know how to teach Conner that God knew Him personally.  The thought had come to her that maybe if she could find a way to get Conner some of his favorite Wuhan noodles that he would feel that God cared for him personally.  She didn't know how to do this, as she hadn't been able to find them for herself.  So she continued her day, but with a constant prayer in her heart that she could somehow find these noodles for Conner.   At about 3:00, Sister Li had an impression to walk over to an area of Temple Square.  As she and her companion stood there, they were approached by a family traveling from China.  They started to speak to them and soon found that they were also from Wuhan.  As they spoke, Sister Li told the family that she had been teaching a young man also from Wuhan and that she would be meeting him in about an hour.  She told them a little bit about Conner and how he was really missing Chinese food, particularly his Wuhan noodles.  The family got very excited and animated as they proceeded to tell her that they had brought those noodles with them on the airplane, and in fact had them in their car!  They went and retrieved a a bag with two four-packs of Wuhan noodles and told them that they must be meant for Conner.  Sister Li started to cry and asked if they might record a message for Conner, since he couldn't see a picture of them.  They recorded a message that said something like, "Hi Wu Jia Xia.  We are your new friends from Wuhan. Whenever you are homesick or want some special food from Wuhan, you can contact us and we will send it to you."  

That afternoon as we sat down in a room with Sister Li to talk about the gospel, she said, "Conner, I have a very special surprise for you.  And I want you to listen carefully to this story so that you will know that not only does God know you, but He knows everything about you.  He knows what you like and what you don't like.  He knows your struggles and your fears.  And he even knows your favorite food.  He loves you, Conner, and he is watching over you."  She proceeded to tell him the story of the noodles and Conner listened with more intent than I had ever seen.  We all had tears as the Spirit filled the room and testified to Conner that God does indeed know him.  

It was a most special, wonderful moment.

Since that time, the Asian market has begun to carry these noodles and we are able to get them more often.  We've also found them on Amazon, though we wouldn't have known what to look for had not we been given that first package of noodles. I'm grateful that at the time, there wasn't a store in Utah where they could be purchased, because it lent itself to this wonderful lesson for Conner.  

When Sister Li's mission was over, she moved out to New York, where she is studying to be a lawyer.  A couple of months ago, she flew out to Utah for a visit and we were able to have her spend her birthday with us!  She insisted on cooking us some Chinese food, which of course the kids absolutely loved.  She played and played with the kids and they all fell even more in love with her.  She is truly one of the most Christlike, special people that I know.

We told Sister Li that Conner had recently accompanied the young men and women in our ward as they sang a song in Sacrament meeting.  It's a song about missionary work and loving God and Him loving us.  She asked if he would play it for her, and we convinced our kids to sing along.  Our girls were a little shy and made me sing with them, but I tried to be extra soft so she could hear their soft voices.  I'm posting the video not to showcase our singing (you can't even hear us very well) but to show Conner's amazing piano playing.  (:  It's a long song, so I'm just posting the second half.

I am so grateful for all of the special people that have come into our lives as a result of our sweet kids.  And I am most grateful that Conner does indeed believe that God knows and loves him.

Happy two years home, Conner!!!!!!