Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Leader among Women, the Hmong, and All the Saints: The Quiet But Powerful Influence of a Single Mother

Today I attended a Wisconsin ward with a growing number of Hmong-speaking converts. A sweet woman came to the podium to share her testimony, a woman I had known well when I was her bishop over 10 years ago. I had visited her family many times, helped the missionaries in teaching her, and have continued to drop by occasionally to visit or bring some of our world-famous homemade applesauce made from the trees in my backyard, with my wife's secret recipe of smooth and chunky blends. Mmmm, but I digress.

She had so much to be grateful for, she said. Four of her loved ones had just been baptized this week, and others in her large family of children and grandchildren have begun coming to church. What really surprised me, as I began thinking about it, was the huge circle of influence this woman has and how many people are in the Church because of her, including many I thought I'd never see in church again. How did she do it?

In Hmong culture, it's tough being a woman (not that it's especially easy anywhere, I suppose). It's especially tough being a Mormon woman. And monstrously tough being a Mormon single mother. One LDS Hmong woman in similar circumstances--financial handicaps, no education, a refugee of war trapped in a strange country whose language she doesn't speak, raising a family on her own as a single mom, and being a member of a religion that defies parts of her own culture and divides her from the majority of her people--told me that as a woman, she has no influence, no voice, and was just "a dry leaf blowing in the wind." The woman who said that was resigned to her powerless situation and pretty much gave up. Not so for the courageous woman who spoke today.

She has endured against all odds, against cultural pressures, against persecution and anger from others, against bias and prejudice in many forms, against the heartbreak of rebellious children who came under the influence of unsavory elements in society and fell away from the Church she loved and from the ways she tried to teach them. Through it all, she kept teaching and inviting her family to believe and come unto Christ. As I looked over the audience today, I saw many of her children there. I saw sons and daughters, cousins, daughter-in-laws who are glowing with the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and many grandchildren. After the service I talked with one of her boys who has come back to church and asked how it is possible that this quiet, humble, soft-spoken woman has been so successful in bringing her family into the Church. He praised her and said that no matter what bad things he and others did or said, she never grew angry and just kept loving and inviting them back. "That's why I am here today," he said.

Steady, persistent faith, courage, and love. Over years, it can work miracles.

From all outward appearances, it would be easy to consider this quiet, shy, and poor single mother as one of the least of the Saints, but in my view, she's one of the greatest. Few people are as loving and gracious. Few have been more successful than her in bringing family members into the Church, especially given the challenges she has faced. She is a true leader among women, among the Hmong, and among all the Saints.

Almost every month she dares to walk up to the podium and in front of a mostly English-speaking audience, a highly educated and comparatively wealthy audience, she sets the example for everyone by having the courage to stand and testify of Jesus Christ as her Savior, witnessing to those who will listen. What a wonderful example she is.

I bet she has no idea of just how amazing her contributions to the kingdom of God have been.

6 comments:

nujkwm said...

Npisov Lindsey, koj hais txog leejtwg? Puas yog Yeeb Muas?

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Tsib yog. Tus pojniam ntawd hu ua ---- aw, thov koj pub kuv ib tshab email, kuv ces qhia koj tus pojniam ntawd hu li cas. Nws muaj menyuam ntaus thiab kev nsteeg loj loj. Nujkwm, koj yog leejtwb?

Thov txhib - kuv hais lus Hmoob tsis zoo pes tsawb.

Nujkwm, koj yog leejtwb? Thov txhib, kuv tsib cim meej.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Oops - that's "thov txim", not "thov txhib". Hope the error isn't something obscene.

michelle said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Jeff.

nujkwm said...

Jeff, kuv twb yog ib tug tub txib hmoob thaum peb pib lub niag pawg ntseeg hmoob me me tau kaum xyoo puag thaum ub. Twb los tsev tau kaum xyoo lawm, cas lam kwv yees tias kuv paub tus pojniam uas koj hais txog xwb.

Collin said...

This was a pleasant thing to see, seeing that I was just recently called to serve in the Wisconsin Milwaukee Hmong speaking mission. I'm really looking forward to serving the Hmong people and seeing the strength of this Hmong woman makes me absolutely happy that I get the opportunity to serve among them. I'm trying to learn the language so if anyone wants to help me out, that would be extremely awesome!