was a crazy moment in Hong Kong where I tripped and nearly crashed
forward, with my body plus camera hanging in the balance, at the
precise cusp between disaster and recovery.
came toward the end of a nearly perfect day that began with an easy
crossing of the border from China (Shenzhen) into Hong Kong, an
uplifting visit to the beautiful Hong Kong Temple where we attended a
session that by chance was in the Mongolian language for a group of
about 20 hardy, stalwart Saints from Mongolia, followed by teaming up
with one of our most inspiring Chinese friends, a young lady who is
now a student in Hong Kong.
went together to Hong Kong’s Ngong Ping cable cars that took us
up high over the rugged hills to an area with a giant Buddha
(marketed as “Big Buddha” — where do they come up
with these great names?) and then teamed up with another LDS family,
new friends of ours living nearby in Hong Kong. Then we took a bus
down to Tai-O fishing village for other interesting sites and
The aptly-named “Big Buddha.”
went back up to the Big Buddha area, visited the Buddhist temple and
monastery there and were on our way back to the cable cars when I
stopped to take a few pictures. Then I was then hurrying back to
catch up to my wife and our friend.
Picturesque cable cars, the photographing of which almost led to an accident.
crazy moment, the close encounter with my tripping point, happened as
I began running. So much seemed to happen in a few seconds. Coming
toward me but a little to the side was a possibly attractive female
that may have been dressed inappropriately.
it will come as a surprise to you but even at my age (the age where
age doesn’t matter much anymore, mostly because I can’t
remember what my age is), ancient temptations do not necessarily fade
away and self-control is needed daily. Even old supposedly
trustworthy geezers can fall and hurt others. The natural, curious
man in me wanted to understand just what temptation I was resisting,
but there was at that moment a distinct instruction as I mentally
spoke to myself like this: “Jeff, keep your eyes focused
straight ahead. Don’t give her the satisfaction of drawing your
attention. Don’t even turn your eyes for a second.” And
so I didn’t, I’m happy to report.
that same instant, the instant I chose to not be distracted for even
a second, my right shoe hit a dangerously raised brick in the walkway
as I was jogging and I came as close to losing my balance completely
as I think is possible without completely falling. With my expensive,
semi-precious SLR camera hanging from my neck, I remember feeling
chagrinned about the obliteration it was about to face as it crashed
against the rock, and wondered if I could turn my body enough to
shield it as I fell.
also remember feeling embarrassed and worrying about what people
would say since I had only recently recovered from another bad fall
while rushing down the hard, wet marble steps of our local subway.
And then there was the thought, “But maybe I can make it!”
as my legs began scrambling forward, first at roughly the same speed
as my forward falling torso, and then a little faster, and then,
recovery, standing still again.
the tripping point to the recovery took about 20 meters, and must
have been a comic sight, though no friends or family saw it. Had
there been any kids or other people in my path across those 20
meters, I think I might have crashed or knocked someone down. And one
important lesson for me was this: if my head or eyes had been turned
a little to the side when the tripping point came, I suspect that the
extra fraction of a second required to bring my focus back to the
path in front of me would have made the difference between success
and failure. I would have crashed.
the way, I am not saying that it is a sin to even notice a female and
that men must walk around with blinders. Here “notice”
doesn’t mean lust over or stare inappropriately — I just
eyes-to-the-ground approach can even be rude in some situations, but
for me in that moment, the counsel to not notice, to not be
distracted, and to keep my eyes squarely forward was what I needed.
Perhaps it’s generally a good approach when approaching
temptation might be excessive, or when one is about to plant one’s
face in the pavement. In any case, had I ignored that guidance, I am
convinced that I would have suffered bodily harm, mental harm (severe
embarrassment), and camera harm.
the most serious downside to the barely-averted disaster is one I
would not have even known: had
I fallen, we would not have met Selina.
This LDS young single adult from Shanghai would have remained alone
on the streets of Hong Kong, separated from her friend, her cell
phone not working, without a place to sleep and without much money.
she is resilient and resourceful, she probably would have slept in
the wrong airport and missed her return flight to Shanghai the next
day. And we would all have missed out on a tender mercy of the Lord
and a small but genuine miracle.
(not her real name) is one of many Young Single Adults in our
District of the Church who have come to China, typically to teach
English or to study. My wife and I have the greatest calling ever:
co-chairs of the Single Adult Committee in the Shanghai International
District, which involves traveling together to different branches in
the District and working to strengthen the single adults. We are so
impressed with these young people, but sometimes they face severe
challenges in their journey.
was one that we were most concerned for given some of the setbacks
she had faced. She had been in our prayers regularly, and while in
Hong Kong, my wife privately wrote her name down on a “prayer
roll” to express her desire for her welfare. She had Selina on
her mind in the house of prayer, but neither of us had any idea that
Selina was coming to Hong Kong that day.
had come the night before to Shenzhen, China (next to Hong Kong), as
had we. She came with another LDS friend who wanted to go to the
temple for our branch temple trip. That friend would go early, and
then Selina would cross the border later and the two would meet at
the temple later that day. If something went wrong, they would just
use their cell phones to reach each other. And finally, they could
just meet at Big Buddha, an interesting tourist spot they wanted to
see (one of many choices in Hong Kong, and one that I hadn’t
even heard of until my Mormanity blog brought me into contact with
the new LDS family I mentioned who suggested Big Buddha and the cable
cars as a recommended attraction for our visit).
friend had made the arrangements and had all the details regarding
flights and a possible place to stay for their second night. But when
Selina crossed the border, the lines were huge and the process
confounding. (Hint: use the Luowu crossing and go before 7 a.m. We
had no lines at 6:30 a.m.) She got to the temple two hours late,
after her friend had given up and gone.
neither of them knew yet was that their phones wouldn’t work at
all in Hong Kong. They also didn’t know that it’s not
easy to get to Big Buddha, and the normal way involves expensive
cable cars that you can’t even get to without waiting in a
gargantuan line when they are open (unless you buy tickets ahead of
time online, as I did, fortunately) — but I think they were
closed or closing by the time Selina managed to get down to that
distant corner of Hong Kong.
had given up on the cable cars, given up on Big Buddha, and was
wondering how she would meet her friend. Not to worry, she thought.
As a last resort she could just sleep in the Hong Kong airport that
night and hopefully run into her friend there the next day —
but that would have been the wrong airport altogether.
had wandered over to a plaza not exactly close to the cable car area,
not an obvious destination as far as I can tell for groups going to
or from the cable cars. She had bought tickets to see a movie and
gone into a Subway sandwich shop to grab a sandwich.
we came down from the cable cars, our LDS friends were taking us to
visit their apartments in a nearby complex and led us through a
shopping plaza on the way. My wife suddenly said, “Selina!”
Why yes, it was somebody we knew, one of our single adults. She was
just crossing the plaza to go to the theatre. A few seconds earlier
or later and we would have missed her. In this city of seven million
people, she was an improbably needle in a vast haystack of people. We
soon learned her story and realized that she needed help, though this
independent and brave young lady might not have realized it then.
took her under our wings and brought her with us (reimbursing her for
the movie ticket which we encouraged her to forego). In the apartment
of our Hong Kong friends, she was able to use the Internet to send a
message to her missing friend with instructions on how to reach us
(we would get a call around 11 o’clock that night and all would
turn out well).
fed her and then, after parting with our cool Chinese student friend,
took Selina back to Shenzhen (crossing the border into China can also
be difficult and confusing without experienced help and we were glad
to make it easy for her). We put her up in our hotel and then took
her with us to the right airport the next morning, and everything
can call it a chance coincidence, but we are so grateful to the Lord
that he would help her and remind her of His love for her through
this little miracle. We hope Selina will remember how much she
matters to Him and how much He loves her. For us, it was so rewarding
to be able to be there at the right time to be a tool to help someone
in need. It’s something I would much rather do than picking up
pieces of a shattered lens or nursing new cuts and bruises.
many Selina moments have I missed, though, through my selfishness,
through my other stumblings and errors in life? The experience
motivates me to want to be more careful, to keep my focus more firmly
forward in life and to more stoutly resist distractions that might
keep me from being useful when there’s a miracle that somebody
needs. Maybe I’m the one that needed this little miracle the
Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his
LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on
the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton,
Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra.
He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.
He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent
Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.
Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering
Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).
Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US
patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications.
Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.