Family travels from China to New York for Hill Cumorah Pageant

By Cindy Panike

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, July 16 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

The Preston family, from left, Lee, Emma, 18, John, 14, Don and Allyne, 18, are from the Suzhou International Branch, Shanghai China International District, and spent part of their vacation volunteering at the Hill Cumorah Pageant.

Provided by the Hill Cumorah Pageant

Enlarge photo»

PALMYRA, N.Y. — The Preston family came more than 10,000 miles from their home in China to go to Palmyra, N.Y., to participate in the Hill Cumorah Pageant.

Don Preston, his wife, Lee, and their three children, Allyne, 18, Emma, 16, and John, 14, are spending 18 days of their summer vacation in the land of the Restoration.

The Preston parents are cast team leaders for 20 18-year-olds and run a “home away from home” for the teens when they are not rehearsing. They organize social and spiritual activities, provide snacks and help manage schedules.

The Prestons, of the Suzhou International Branch, Shanghai China International District, are Arizona natives who live and work in Suzhou, China, and teach at the Suzhou Singapore International School (K-12), which is attended by about 1,200 “expats,” those who are away from their native countries and living in China. Classes are taught in English. Don teaches high school economics and history, and Lee teaches elementary courses and English as a Second Language. She also teaches early-morning seminary to 18 LDS students. Don is the branch's Young Men president.

In the pageant, the Prestons perform in several scenes, including Lehi’s preaching in Jerusalem, Abinadi’s preaching and Jesus Christ's visit to the Nephites. It has been a memorable experience for all of them.

The Prestons go out to greet the audience each evening, and on the second night of pageant performances they greeted members of their own branch from China. Their branch president, O.T. Benson, his wife, Julie, and their seven children were visiting from China. The Benson family is visiting LDS Church history sites as well as other American history sites in the East.

It was a great reunion at the Hill Cumorah for both families.

The Hill Cumorah Pageant runs through July 16; for information, go to www.hillcumorah.org/Pageant.

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