Many lives touched by dying teen's last wish

Sometimes when people reach out in an ordinary way to help another they come to realize that the Lord takes their humble efforts and, with His guiding hand, turns them into something extraordinary.

Those were some thoughts and feelings expressed at the funeral on April 8 of a 15-year-old Korean girl who had captured the hearts of Latter-day Saints and others in this Utah community. Although Kim Hui Chong was not a member of the Church, her funeral, at the request of her family, was conducted by E. Eugene Clark, bishop of the Roy 7th Ward. A group of returned Korean missionaries provided a musical number, "I Am a Child of God," sung in Korean. And Church members spoke at the funeral, which was attended by many who had grown to love and care for Hui Chong.

Raised by her grandparents in Korea, Hui Chong came to America last year to live with her mother and stepfather, Sunah and Jerry Orwan, after being diagnosed with cancer. Given only a short time to live, Hui Chong's last wish was to see her grandparents.

Roy resident and Make-A-Wish volunteer Bette Mellinger first learned of Hui Chong's desire and began the effort, which would involve many members of the Church, to bring the grandmother, Rae Bong Cho, to America. Hui Chong's grandfather, Kim Ung Won, was too sick to travel. For more than a month, people on both sides of the globe made phone calls, pleaded with officials and prayed to fulfill a dying wish.

Korea Pusan Mission Pres. Mark Peterson arranged for an LDS travel agent in Seoul to help with travel plans. In the meantime, Targhee James, a businessman and member of the Liberty 2nd Ward in the Huntsville Utah Stake, read of Hui Chong's plight in a newspaper. He offered his assistance to Mrs. Mellinger, and contacted a U.S. Embassy official in Seoul and arranged to have the grandmother receive her visa in a day - a process that usually takes weeks.

In addition, a Salt Lake City travel agency donated tickets for an interpreter, Joel Campbell, a Deseret News reporter and former missionary to Korea, to go to Portland to greet the grandmother and accompany her to Utah. The agency also sold the grandmother's tickets at cost to Make-A-Wish.

Another mission president, Paull H. Shin of the Korea Seoul Mission, transported the grandmother to government offices and then to the airport.

Tears were shed at the meeting of grandmother and granddaughter and the visit, although short, was wonderful, according to the Orwans.

"It is easier now to see others as people who are sensitive to one another," they said, in a statement read by Roy Utah Stake Pres. Richard V. Jensen. "Doing unto others as we would have them do unto us has a special `new' meaning to us now."

Members of the Roy Utah Stake also organized a fireside to show their love and support for the girl before she died.

Sorry, no more articles available