Well Schooled


Angel Liu’s schedule could wear her down in a hurry. Fortunately she’s got something that builds her right back up.

It was a routine she had down. She’d get up a little before 6:00 A.M. to catch the 6:30 bus, which would take her to school where she would spend the next nine hours. When the bell rang, dismissing classes for the day, it seemed like school was just beginning. She’d leave class and head to the library for three additional hours studying the day’s lessons. That’s 12 hours in school, just in case you’re keeping track. At 8:00 P.M., she’d hop on the bus and ride the 40 minutes to her home where she’d shower, eat, catch up on the world’s latest happenings from the newspaper, read from the scriptures, and then go to sleep. The next day, Liu Kwan Ling, who also uses the English name Angel, would do it all over again.

Want to schedule some time with her? Better do it in advance. Free time wasn’t one of the luxuries in Angel’s life then, and it certainly isn’t now.

Even Angel admits it was a grueling schedule. She’ll also admit it was worth it. Last year Angel graduated from the Taipei First Girls’ High School and is now in her first year at National Taiwan University, rated the top college in this island country near mainland China.

Having survived the rigors of high school, Angel is probably busier now that she’s graduated. Her college schedule compared to her daily high school routine really isn’t that much different. In fact, it’s about identical. It’s just that the college courses she’s taking are a little more demanding. Yet Angel knows how she’s been able to juggle all the things in her busy schedule. “I can increase my spirituality by reading the scriptures and praying,” she says. “I think without doing that and by not going to my Sunday meetings I would become easily discouraged and depressed about school and life. But if I go to sacrament meeting and listen to the talks, it seems that my life is always more positive and happy. I think the most important thing in my life is my spirituality.”

It was a tough two years on Angel as she both prepared for college and tried to remain active in the Peitou Ward of the Taipei East Stake, where she is her ward’s sacrament meeting pianist.

The bulk of her time was spent studying English, math, Chinese, physics, chemistry, biology, physical education, music, and housekeeping (cooking and sewing).

Scripture study was a welcome break for Angel, even if her friends didn’t understand why she’d take time away from her school classes to bother with religion. “A lot of them think it’s strange that I spend time with my church. Most of my classmates don’t have any religious beliefs,” says Angel, who was the only Church member in the Taipei First Girls’ School student body of 4,000-plus. “Some students will discuss religion with me, but most of the time they just think being LDS is strange because it takes me away from my schoolwork.”

One of those classmates is a friend Angel invited to church one Sunday. Angel says her friend had a generally positive experience at church, and even told Angel afterward that she felt religion was good, and that she might think about becoming religious herself—after she graduates from the university. “She just didn’t think she had the time for church,” Angel adds.

Even Angel’s father, Liu Chen Mei Yu, isn’t completely convinced the time his daughter spends learning the gospel is all that productive. He often questions if Angel’s time wouldn’t be better spent studying or going to the library. When Angel’s mother, Catherine, joined the Church in 1984, Angel was only seven. Although Liu Chen Mei Yu didn’t object to his wife’s baptism, he had no interest in joining the Church with her. However he did allow Angel to be baptized when she turned eight. “My father is interesting,” Angel adds. “Sometimes he will say, ‘Since you have an exam coming up, maybe you shouldn’t go to church.’ But there are other times when he’ll tell me to hurry up because he doesn’t want me to be late for church.

“My parents have high expectations of me. My father thinks I can have a great impact on our family by continuing my education and doing well,” Angel adds. Angel is also quick to point out she can have a great impact on her family by staying active in the Church too.

“In Taiwan, parents who are members of the Church set examples for their children,” says Kent Liang, a former regional representative and stake president. “They go to church and perform their callings, and the children are able to see this. But some kids whose parents aren’t members are often tempted to rest and not go to church on Sundays. And the school competition is so high that school is sometimes all they see. They think, Should I go to church or go to the library? Sometimes they don’t worry that much about church things because they don’t see that far into the future. Right now, many of the kids in Taiwan are only worried about school.”

And that’s what’s so amazing about Angel. School is important. But it’s not the only thing in her life. She graduated near the top of her high school class, yet she doubts she could have done it had she not had the gospel’s guiding influence in her life.

“The Church was especially helpful to me during my senior year of high school. I noticed a lot of my schoolmates were easily depressed because of school,” she says. “But I knew if I did my best, Heavenly Father would help me. Usually, my grades were better than I expected.”

Today, college life keeps Angel incredibly busy as she studies to become a doctor. As Angel returns home from a full day, she still takes time to read from the scriptures. When she closes her triple combination, it’s 10:30 P.M. Angel’s day is over—finally. She can close her eyes knowing she’s doing well in school, and, more importantly, she’s finding time to include the gospel in her busy life. In less than eight hours, her day will begin all over again. Angel will undoubtedly enjoy a very sound sleep.

[photos] Photography by Laury Livsey and Richard M. Romney

[photos] Even though school activities keep her extremely busy, Angel always makes sure she’s able to attend her Sunday meetings. “I think the most important thing in my life is my spirituality,” she says.

[photos] Although there isn’t much time in Angel’s day, when there is she enjoys playing the piano and reading the scriptures.