Lilik Was a Mormon, an Ex-Mormon Profile Spotlight

Growing up in Indonesia within a Muslim community, Lilik navigated poverty and familial expectations from a young age, leaving school at 14 and working as a nanny away from home, in Singapore, and later in Hong Kong. Amidst the challenges of her early years, Lilik’s encounter with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hong Kong brought her a sense of safety and belonging. Her immersion in the church was accompanied by internal conflict as she grappled with her family’s reaction to her conversion and the discrimination she faced. Lilik married an atheist, who loved her and was kind. She was “hoping to bring him to the temple” one day. Despite finding solace and purpose in her newfound faith, doubts began to emerge, leading Lilik to reevaluate her beliefs and ultimately decide to step away from the church when she learned of the Masonic connections to the temple ceremony. She found many more issues studying church doctrine online. Through her journey, Lilik reflects on the complexities of faith, identity, and the pursuit of happiness in the face of adversity.

I’m from Indonesia and I was a Muslim and a Mormon. I grew up in a Muslim community just like being Mormon in Utah I think. From family, friends, school, everything in my life until 16 y/o was Muslim. I never enjoyed being Muslim but I was a good Muslim. I went to a Muslim school and studied the Arabish. I had very good grades and my teachers were impressed – they wanted me to memorize the whole Quran. I declined the offer.

My parents were very poor. I dropped out of school when I was 14 and went to another city to work as a nanny. I was very sad and angry but I was happy to get away from my village. At 16, I was sent to Singapore to work as a nanny. My heart was broken because my parents sent me to another country. I was lucky I was not trafficked and sold to be a sex worker. During this time in Singapore, my belief in God shifted. I didn’t like how he made my life so miserable. Other children went to school and enjoyed their teenage life, I was working – and getting scolded by my boss if I made a mistake. What did you do when you were 14 and 16? I worked. Full-time.

Singapore was hell for me. When my boss fired me on my 18th birthday, I went back to Indonesia with little money – I was afraid to go home. My parents only wanted to see my money. Four months later, I went to Hong Kong to work as a nanny again, but there my life began. I had holidays and my boss was nice. During holidays, I could go wherever I wanted. My English was very bad, so during holidays, I liked to go to the library to read free books and play the computer.

I met the missionaries. I wanted to know about Jesus since I was not religious at that time. I thought it was an answered prayer from God. Life in Hong Kong was lonely and the church introduced me to friends from Indonesia and other countries. The church was open every day besides Monday. Back then, I thought the church was the safest place in Hong Kong for a young girl like me. Four months later I got baptized. I broke the news to my parents and sister and they were miserable. I was angry too on my side. Why did they send me to another country to earn money for them? I’d decided to make use of my freedom and do whatever I wanted – they couldn’t have anything to say because I sent them money every month.

I didn’t really understand the church doctrines at first, but I kept learning. I felt so safe and loved in the church. I paid my tithing diligently and generously. Four years later, I served a mission and was called back to my home country. The mission was easy for me because I was used to living abroad and had a hard life. On the mission, I learned to be less fanatic. I started to dare to question the church doctrines in my head, but I never brought it up to other members or leaders. I was scared of meeting someone I knew from my village and them finding out that I had changed my religion, so I didn’t tell anyone besides my parents. My sister told me to not come home to my village because they found out I changed religion and they would capture me and never let me go. So, after I finished my mission, I went back to Hong Kong as a tourist. Life was difficult with limited money, but luckily there was a member kind enough to let me stay there until I found a job.

I’d been so fanatic that I only made friends with members, but after my mission, I started to be open to people. Discrimination is very high in Hong Kong with my type of work and having no education. Even the local church members are very discriminative towards people like me. The branch I belonged to was mostly women who worked in Hong Kong as migrant workers like me. So, finding a husband was hard. No men were interested in us lowly workers. Many members did online dating and some are fortunate enough to find a member husband from the US. Some don’t or just stay single until they turn old and wait to married in the afterlife.

I was afraid to be like those old ladies waiting for a priesthood holder to bring them to the temple, so I decided to just marry someone who loved me unconditionally. One year after my mission I married my husband. He is an atheist. I was hoping to bring him to the temple. I was very hopeful. I never forced him. He is very kind and always supported me with the church activities. He always took me and picked me up from church. Then we moved to his country.

After 3 years, it was getting difficult for me. I became disappointed that God sent me a non-member husband. I didn’t feel belonging in the new ward. I started to question the church doctrines – like the concept of families can be together forever. I didn’t get how are we going to be together when our children will have families of their own. Besides, I didn’t really want to be with my parents. I decided to be less active spiritually. I didn’t read the scriptures as often, and I wore my garments less often. In my head, I was tired of waiting for my husband to find interest in the church, while he was still so kind to me. And he is kind without expecting rewards from heaven. He is just kind, and it hit me so badly. Then I fell pregnant. I kept thinking about the future of my baby. What kind of life do I want her to have? And as I pictured it, I didn’t see the church as a happy place to stay.

Then one day I discovered how the masonry handshakes are similar to the temple handshakes. I already felt so weird about the handshakes in the temple and to find out about it online was so upsetting. I dug deeper and that led me to so much ex-mormon literature. It was difficult leaving the church. I’d already caused damage to the people in my life. I already lost my childhood friends and family, and now encountered the same experience leaving the church. But, I’m glad I’m out while I’m still in my 30s. Now, my life is pretty simple – focusing on the goodness of everyday life without making it complicated to think about life after death. Do good things and be a decent human being without expecting anything in return. Love selflessly.


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