One of the greatest blessings in my life came as a result of my parents joining the Church when I was very young. This has afforded me the opportunity to grow up being exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As a young man, I was, of course, able to participate in youth activities and seminary. These experiences had a great impact on my young mind and immature nature. The youth program helped me develop a relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The spark of testimony from my childhood days was added upon to become a small flame of faith.
Of course, I was not a perfect young man. Like some of you, I did some stupid things because I thought I was invincible and I knew everything.1 I was prideful and I didn’t even know it. My pride became a stumbling block to my spiritual growth.
Growing up in the Church everyone expected you to go on a mission. However, as time went by, my desire drifted farther and farther away. But, with the help of family, friends, and priesthood leaders, I was able to get back on course. It was not a quick and easy process, but I made it. It took a lot of swallowing of my pride, praying, studying the scriptures, and repentance. My wise bishop taught me how to truly repent. And for the first time in my life, I realized that God truly loved me, and Jesus Christ died for me too. That changed my perspective.
My service as a full-time missionary changed my life. It was truly amazing. On my mission, I came to know Heavenly Father and the Savior Jesus Christ even more. The plan of salvation became even clearer to me. I understood the importance of making and keeping covenants and why it is important to obey God’s commandments. I also learned what it means to surrender my will to Heavenly Father’s will.
My mission was one of the best educations in my life. What I learned and who I became was not something I could have gained even from the best universities in the world. In many ways, the mission field was God’s university for
One of the many commitments I made to God was that I will always be honest with the leaders whom He has called. I made sure there were no surprises. My first interview with my mission president was an experience never to be forgotten. After a few pleasantries, he looked straight into my eyes and said: “Elder Teh, tell me all your unconfessed sins.” I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair!
I thought about that interview for a few weeks, but it wasn’t until a few months later that I realized the significance of what my mission president was trying to teach all of us who are to be the Lord’s representatives. I had a wonderful time serving as a fulltime missionary mostly because I did not carry any unnecessary baggage with me. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we are able to “cast our burdens upon Him.” I continue to apply that lesson in my life up to the present time.
Before my mission, I had dreams of studying at BYU-Hawaii. Toward the end of my mission, however, all that changed. All I wanted to do was get married. I met so many wonderful families in the mission that I wanted so badly to have my own, soon after I got back. That opportunity came when I began dating Sister Teh.
As we were planning our marriage, we were determined to follow the counsel of our leaders. We were not going to allow ourselves to be bound by worldly traditions. We kept our focus on the holy ordinances of the temple and what it would mean to us as eternal companions, husband and wife, and eventually, as a father and as a mother. Hence, instead of a lavish reception, we planned a simple open house with juice and cookies. My sisters baked our wedding cake and my mother made Grace’swedding dress. So, we saved whatever little savings we had and were not saddled with any debt as we began our married life. Neither did we impose upon our parents to spend a lot of money in order to please others. We are so grateful that our parents supported our decision. It was such a liberating feeling!
Because of that experience, we learned this valuable lesson: “Our lives will be so much simpler and stress-free if we focused on pleasing God instead of pleasing other people.” We remember so well the Lord’s rebuke to the Prophet Joseph after he lost the 116 pages of manuscript.2
Children soon came to our family. Grace and I believe that each child that comes into a family brings with them their own set of blessings so they can survive. As a result, by working hard, being prudent in our expenses, paying a full-tithe and giving our fast offering, we were able to provide for the needs of our growing family, even though I was still a student in college. At one point in my life, we had two children, I worked fulltime and went to school in the evenings and served as a bishop. The Lord’s hand was evident in all the blessings we received. It doesn’t mean though that life would be easy and without challenges. When I finally graduated from college, we had two children and Grace was soon to give birth to our third child.
We have had an amazing journey thus far. We have learned many lessons during the different stages of our lives. “Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.”3 ◼︎