This Sunday I was given my new Hmong name: Paj Dawb Lis. I have no idea how to spell it in English so there it is in Hmong.
Thank you to the three wonderful women who named me.
"Lis" is my new last name, translated as "Lee". Our Hmong Branch president's last name is also Lis; it was his wife who facilitated this naming. I've joked a few times that my purpose is to soften President Lee up since he has no daughters... which makes the choice of Hmong last names quite fitting in my opinion.
It was explained to me that "Paj Dawb" means White Flower, a symbol of purity (because it is white). Two of the women who helped pick my new name speak no English. One offered the perspective that purity is a gift from God, which is the Hebrew translation of my American name, Joanna. The other added that as purity is a gift from God, so are temples, which are also white.
And then there is the photo above which I took about a year ago outside the Anchorage, Alaska LDS Temple. That simple white flower is, for some reason, growing with the beautiful purple ones. It looks a little different, sticking out a bit, but that's OK. I may not be the only one serving in the Hmong Branch who is white but as the only redhead; I stake my claim as palest. Relation to this photo should be self-explanatory; I'm their Paj Dawb.