Su Myat (Rachel) Yadanar Shin said she and her family were taught the gospel by senior missionaries in their home in Myanmar in 2009. She said they decided to learn more about the Church because of a friend’s invitation to attend. Eventually, Shin said they gained testimonies and joined the Church. Nine years later, Shin arrived at BYU–Hawaii.
A chance meeting with the missionaries
Su Myat Yadanar Shin, a sophomore from Myanmar majoring in biochemistry, shared, “Our family investigated the Church for a year. … [The missionaries] visited our home and started teaching the lessons. It took a while, but our whole family joined the church together in November of 2010.”
Yan Shin Fawn, Shin’s father, and Myat Myat Soe, Shin’s mother, both said God knew they were looking for the true church and said they were guided to a chance meeting with the senior missionaries. Shin’s parents said they and their family invited the missionaries to their home and were taught about the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel, which they had never heard before.
Shin said her family were previously members of the Baptist church so it was not hard for them to understand who Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father were. Other concepts, she said, were more difficult to understand.
“It is kind of hard to understand about the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon,” shared Shin. “We only knew the Bible. It took us a long time to gain a testimony, but we do believe the Church is true, so we got baptized.”
Shin said her and her family have attended many different churches, but when they found The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said they have stayed ever since.
Converted by the Book of Mormon
Shin said The Book of Mormon was one of the reasons she gained a testimony of the Church.
Even though there was no Myanmar translation of the book at the time, she said she tried her best to read it. “It was really interesting. My English was really bad back in the day. It was so hard for me to read it and understand it, but I tried so hard because I really wanted to understand it.”
Shin added she could feel the Spirit as she read the Book of Mormon. “I was curious as I read chapter by chapter. I was really interested in reading and wanted to know more. I do believe the Holy Spirit helped me to understand it.”
She continued, “Can you imagine? My English is not really good, but I know the Book of Mormon is true. It’s awesome.”
Photo provided by Shin
Photo provided by Shin
Challenges as a Latter-day Saint
Shin explained she had a high school teacher who did not understand her Christian commitment to the Church. She shared, “We would have a study group, and then the teacher would ask me what I am going to do on Sunday, and I would say I am going to church.
“Sometimes we had exams on Sundays and I would tell them I cannot come because I need to go to church. I tried my best to help my teacher to understand me.”
Shin said, in high school, she was the only Christian while the rest of her friends were Buddhist. “I had friends from different religious backgrounds, and we all get along, and they are good friends too.”
One day, Shin said a classmate from school began to question her beliefs. When he found out she was giving a talk at church, Shin said he was surprised because she is a woman. She explained, “He is also a Christian, but the women in his church do not give talks at the pulpit.”
She continued, “He started teasing me in a mocking way all the time after that. It is hard for him to accept it. He was mocking me in front of my friends all the time and it was difficult.”
After serving in the Salt Lake City, Temple Square Mission, Shin said she worked as a Quality Control Inspector for an underwear company. She said she was one of the most important employees because she could speak English. When her boss would ask her to work on Sundays, Shin said she would refuse.
“They asked me why I do not work on Sundays and told me that if I work on Sundays, I would get more money. They said I am just wasting my time just sitting in church every Sunday.”
Friends of the same faith
Shin said her experience studying at BYUH is different than any other school she’s attended. She said, “I love it. It is a different feeling. I’ve never had this kind of experience before. I am really happy to be in school and study with all my friends who have the same beliefs. We go to church together, we study together and we have family home evenings, so it’s really cool.”
Shin said she feels both lucky and blessed to have not only friends, but also teachers of the same faith. This, she said, allows them to connect more easily.
Shin expressed appreciation for the diversity on campus and is interested in learning about different cultures. Even though there are not many students from Myanmar on campus, she said she has made friends with students from different countries around the world.
When talking about her best friend, Shin said, “I am really close to Ioanna [Beia]. People will see me hanging out with her. She is my co-worker and sometimes we attend the same classes. Even though we are different, we are enjoying each other’s company. She is my best friend.”
Ioanna Beia, a sophomore from Kiribati majoring in hospitality and tourism management, shared, “[Shin] is the kindest friend I ever knew. She even waits for me … beside my room so that we can go to work at the same time. I’m so surprised when someone calls my name outside my window. She is loving to everyone and talkative. We share our laughter, secrets and problems. She is a trusted friend for me.”
Marie Joy (MJ) Ritual Arao, a junior from the Philippines studying English education, shared life lessons she’s learned from Shin. “[Shin] taught me whatever life throws at you, or whatever criticisms you receive, accept them wholeheartedly, and it will be up to you on how to make a change. She taught me how to be more humble.”
Shin described BYUH as one big family. “Sometimes I do not understand different cultures and different languages, but because of the gospel, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and that is how we become an ohana.”