Gathering his belongings, Brig joined the endless crowd of people. As he reached the final door that separated the arrivals from the rest of Hong Kong, he recalled the first time he had landed in the city. The crowd was much the same. Same black hair, same signs with names of hotels and various symbols printed on them. This time, however, Brig recognized that it was indeed Cantonese that people were speaking, and much to his delight he could understand what they were saying. “Long time no see,” “How are you?” and “Welcome to Hong Kong” were phrases he was able to catch.
His old friend and ex-missionary companion, Danny Wong (a.k.a. The Buddha), agreed to meet him at the airport, but as yet there was no sign of him. He let the flow of the crowd carry him forward until it dissipated and he was standing alone, looking dazed but not entirely lost. He pulled out his phone, hoping to get a signal. The letters HKTC appeared next to four bars indicating a strong signal. He looked to see if he had received any new email or text messages, but there were no messages and the only emails received were junk. Disappointed, he put his phone back in his pocket and turned to search for a place to sit down when he heard a familiar voice call out from behind him.
“Elder Young!” the Buddha yelled out in Cantonese.
Brig turned to see his stout friend walking towards him. He was wearing a dark suit, a white shirt, and as always, his signature smile. Though overweight, he looked strong, healthy, and robust. In striking contrast, Brig’s addictions had made him skinny, almost emaciated. His jeans and shirt rumpled and wet from being rinsed, his hair a mess of dreadlocks, and his face pale and unshaved.
Danny stopped a few feet short of Brig, looked him up and down and, holding his arms out further in a gesture of surprise, asked, “Did you swim here?” Brig laughed and moved into Danny’s open arms for a man hug; two quick embraces, clenched fists, and release.
“Rough couple of months, actually,” Brig answered back in Cantonese. “Look at you. You look great! What is up with that?” Brig was pleasantly surprised by how easily his Cantonese was coming back to him.
“Clean living, Elder.”
It had been over fifteen years since the Buddha and the Prophet had last seen each other. They did, however, stay in touch through email and the occasional phone call. There were periods when, for no reason at all, they wouldn’t talk for months, and then other times when they would speak daily. Over the last few years, it had become more the several months’ variety. They always made plans to visit each other, but something always got in their way.
As Brig stayed busy hiding his addictions, training to become President of Brigham Young International, and struggling through his life, Danny got married in the Mormon Hong Kong temple. Three years ago, Danny’s wife gave birth to a chubby little boy that looked just like his father. After finishing his mission, Danny found a job as a clerk with the HSBC (Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Corporation) and rose to Branch Manager. He also maintained his high standing in the church and had recently become a Stake President – a voluntary, but high-level leadership position in the Mormon church’s organization. By all appearances, Danny had become everything Brig was supposed to be.