Some would call it a match made in heaven.
Tracey Fei and Zhang Li, both converts to the Church, met in the Chinese branch in Auckland, almost two years ago.
Tracy was a new convert and Zhang Li was an investigator.
“I gave him rides to activities and we got to know each other more,” Tracy said.
“I didn’t know I would marry him . . . but I knew he was reliable and nice guy.”
The couple fell in love but their journey towards a temple marriage has been anything but easy.
“When I went back to China in November last year for three months, I let my parents know I wanted to marry Zhang Li in the temple,” Tracy said.
“My dad told me, ‘if you get married, you are no longer my daughter’.”
Tracey said her family repeatedly told her not to get married and that the Church was “not real”.
“Of course, I felt really sad,” she said, “because I know what I believe is true, but my family is also important me.
“It was a huge conflict and mostly because my family just didn’t understand. I couldn’t explain eternal marriage to them. They couldn’t understand and weren’t interested in understanding. Every day I was in this fight.”
Five years ago, Tracey moved to New Zealand from Beijing, China at the age of 16.
“Back home, [growing up] people told me there was no God,” she said.
“So, when I first met the missionaries on the street, I was scared because I didn’t know anything about religion. I wanted to run away from them.”
Incredibly, Tracey kept bumping into missionaries wherever she went.
“One day I was walking, and I remember suddenly having this feeling. I’ve heard people talk about a ‘father’ before and I thought, no one can understand me . . . maybe I could talk to this ‘father’. At the time, I didn’t know about Heavenly Father, but I wanted to try.”
“I had a bit of faith and thought, ‘what would happen if I just joined?’
Tracey embraced the gospel and was baptised in November 2015.
Before, when I had difficulties I would think, ‘life sucks- why me?’ Now there is always hope to [help] conquer difficulties.
Zhang Li met the missionaries on his first day in New Zealand as he was checking into his hotel.
“Back then, I didn’t know if there was a God, but I had watched sci-fi movies and I had wondered if something [had] created us, and why.
“I also thought, ‘if there is a creator, why would he leave me alone?’”
“Many people in China seem to chase fame and fortune. They want a big house and money. But after they get all those things, they still feel empty. I didn’t know what I wanted—but I knew I didn’t care about those things.”
Zhang Li was baptised a year after Tracey, in November 2016.
“It’s like I was reborn,” Zhang said.
“Knowing who God is makes me feel confident. I’m not worried [about challenges] because I know I’m doing the right thing. I just know everything will work out and now I know I’m not alone,” he said.
He knew a temple marriage was their only option.
“Temple marriage is what I promised Heavenly Father when I was baptised, and I want to fulfil my covenants,” Zhang Li said.
“Without the blessings of the temple, we cannot have an eternal family.”
Tracy believes it’s important for members to have temple marriage as one of their goals.
“You are bound for eternity when you are married in the temple, and that is something I’ve always wanted since I heard about it,” she said.
“It’s all part of the work of God. You can’t believe in prayer and then not believe in the temple. You need to believe in the whole plan.”
Through persistent prayer and scripture reading, the couple experienced their biggest miracle yet.
The Book of Mormon was banned in Tracey’s home in China, so she had to “hide the scriptures from my family because they thought the scriptures were useless and a waste of time.”
“The scriptures saved me,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe how much they helped me during those three months [in China]. I prayed every night that the Lord would soften hearts . . . and I saw my family slowly started to change.”
When Tracey was about to fly back to New Zealand, her parents sat her down and gave her their blessing.
“It was a miracle, because I can look back and see how much my parent’s hearts changed. I feel so grateful,” she said.
“I’ve never once doubted, because I’ve seen God in my life. All these things I have experienced are a witness. I have no reason to doubt.”
“Alma 34 talks about using God’s word as an experiment, but you have to act. It’s all about faith. If you don’t try to believe it, it won’t work. I know the Church is true. I know we have everything in the gospel that can, and will, bless every aspect of our lives.”
The couple will be sealed in the Hamilton New Zealand Temple on 13 July 2018.