Eliot Justin Cheuk, a returned missionary and freshman from Hong Kong with an undeclared major, said he began his life in Hong Kong with a less-than-strong testimony and relationship with his parents. He said he has strengthened both those aspects of his life through his mission and attendance at BYU-Hawaii. “The past two-and-a-half years of my life have been some of the most life-changing years.”
He said his parents have amazing testimonies and love the gospel with all of their hearts. “My parents both joined [the Church] in their teen years but didn’t meet until they were in their thirties. Looking back, they always taught me the correct principles and I wish I had paid closer attention in my childhood and teenage years.”
“Our relationship was complicated,” Cheuk continued. “I usually had school from early in the morning to later in the afternoon, longer than a lot of my western friends. I had homework to do, and of course I wanted to hang out with my friends, and they were busy with their jobs. It was just the way it was. But when I left, I realized how important they were to me. They were my rock.”
At age 18, Cheuk received his call to serve in the Australia Melbourne Mission. Cheuk said he didn’t feel nervous because of his relationship with his family. “Because of how I grew up kind of detached from my family, leaving them wasn’t really a big deal. I had been to EFY and my dad had exposed me to western culture before. From that, I feel like I adapted easily into the MTC.
“But spiritually, the mission was really challenging. By myself I had never read the Book of Mormon all the way through. I had always just listened and not really taken in the deeper meaning of what the prophets were trying to tell me. I had to really find my purpose as a human being in this world. The mission really was the defining moment for me, where I stopped being a kid and became an adult.”
Shane Davis, a freshman from Colorado majoring in business, said, “E.J. [Eliot] loves the gospel more than anything. He loves helping others and I really admire that.”
Todd Olsen, Cheuk’s roommate and a freshman from Arizona studying accounting, said, “Eliot had a very unique way of growing up, but through all that, he became closer to his parents and to Heavenly Father.”
Reflecting on his choice to attend BYUH, Cheuk jokingly said he was here to find an eternal companion. After he said, “It’s a great starting off point for me, being fresh out of the mission and all. I love to learn, and I’m excited to learn another language if I get into Spanish class next semester.”
Reminiscing on growing up in Hong Kong, Cheuk said it was a cool experience because of everything being close in the city. “You can go from shops to gyms and back home in no time. The only problem I would say is that it’s too busy. You stop to talk to someone on the street and they look at you like you’re crazy. It makes it hard for missionaries to teach people because of the rush.
“However, it’s great because I loved to hang out with my friends. I always felt like I had a lot of friends whenever I was really happy, but then when I wasn’t doing so well, it felt like only two people really cared about me and how I was feeling. It taught me to know who my friends really are.”
Cheuk is fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and English. He plans to take Spanish classes in the Winter 2019 Semester. Cheuk is currently an undecided major, but wants to major in psychology.