Week 11 – 10/23/2016 – SaiGon

Good morning to everyone! Well…I guess it’s about night time where most everyone else is, but it’s morning over here.

Before I get into what we’ve been doing this week, I wanna give a piece of advice to all the future missionaries who have the opportunity to read this: If you get called to someplace that rains ALOT (Vietnam for instance), and you’re considering buying waterproof shoes, then heed this words of wisdom gained from experience. Waterproof shoes so a half-decent job of keeping water out, especially when it just drizzles. But when it rains to the point where flooding happens, you’ll find that though they may do an ok job of keeping water out, they do an even better job of keeping water IN. It’s especailly fantastic in Vietnam, where people leave all their trash out on the streets, so when it floods, rain water mixed with sewage and people’s waste is what you’re hiking in😉. In the end, it’s up to personal preference. If you’re ok with your socks staying dry in a small drizzle, but essentially wearing buckets of water on your feet when the real rain comes, then by all means buy waterproof shoes. If not, then the other solution is to just buy a pair of crocs or something like a lot of the missionaries here. For me personally, I haven’t swallowed my pride enough to buy myself a pair of crocs. Maybe someday. But yeah, that’s my little tidbit, so on to the good stuff!

It’s been a really good week this week. The Season of Miracles continues to roll forward and we’ve seen a lot of little miracles in our day-to-day life. It’s really been an inspiring week to say the least. I didn’t mention this over the past couple weeks, but for certain reasons, it was a little bit of a tougher time for our companionship, both together as companions and as individuals. But this week was definitely a bounce-back! We really started off with a lot more positivity and been taking the work by the reins!
So on to what’s happened this week. To start off the Season of Miracles, we had the miracle of having multiple dinner appointments with member families this week! Those went really well, we got to have meatball subs with one of them, and it was quite filling! My experience with the 2nd dinner appointment can be found in the video below. It was…interesting. Just kidding, we actually had some really good chicken and rice, among other things (again, you can see the video).
In addition to good food, we also managed to find a new investigator! His name is Anh Duc and he was a former investigator that Elder Tri had contacted a couple of months ago before I arrived in Vietnam, but when they arranged a time to meet for lessons, he wouldn’t show up, so they had to drop him. Fast forward a couple months, and through certain experiences and problems Anh Duc went through in that time, he called us back and is really asking for God’s help to help him get through this stage in his life. We’ve met with him 3 times this week to try and help him come closer to Christ and help him. His problems are more physical than they are spiritual or emotional, so we’ve been trying to help him see that there is a connection between the 2. Even though God may not always give us a physical solution to our physical problems, He really does bless us with spiritual fortitude and strength to get through what we’re going through. Those blessings are a lot harder to look for and recognize, but when we do, the reward is so valuable! Anyways, Anh Duc went to church with us this week, along with another investigator than Em Ngoc. I was really impressed with our branch at this time. We don’t get too much help from them in terms of missionary work, but when we brought Em Ngoc to church, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly and enthusiastically they fellowshipped her. Needless to say, she ended up really loving church and I think that plays a huge role in someone’s conversion.
We also had exchanges this week for a day. I went with Elder Vinh, one of the missionaries I was with in the MTC. His companionship was opening up a completely new area, so we did a lot of contacting, no lessons. It was a pretty good time. As the night ended, we decided to meet up at Popeye’s to exchange back with Elder tri and Elder Vinh’s companion. While we were there, we saw another miracle! An American guy walked up to us while we were in line ordering food and asked us if we were LDS missionaries, to which we enthusiastically replied “Yes!” (with the church so small here and in such a foreign place, it’s always awesome to come across people who know who we are). This man had served a mission and worked in the temple back in America, but due to the financial crisis of 2008, he lost a lot, including his property and family, and as a result, he became inactive. He moved to Vietnam because as he was doing a study abroad program back in BYU, he studied at Vietnam and fell in love with it, so after losing everything, he decided to move back to Vietnam for a fresh start. He’s lived here for almost 3 years and is now married to a Vietnamese woman. The amazing thing is, even though his financial circumstance made it hard for him to continue with the church, his faith never wavered. Since he’s moved to Vietnam and married his wife, he’s been trying to find the Vietnamese LDS branches here so that he can come back to church, and he’s also been trying to share the gospel with his wife. By pure coincidence (or maybe not😇) he happened to run into Elder Vinh and I while we were at Popeyes, and we got to talk for a long time with him. We gave him the info to the church buildings here is Saigon and our contact info, so hopefully we’ll see him again someday.
Tomorrow, Elder Tri goes to Hong Kong to renew his Visa, which means I get to go with other missionaries for a few days. We’ll see how that goes! As usual, I hope everyone is safe back at home, and I’m glad for the opportunity to email home every week to share a bit about what we’ve been up to. I’m excited to see what else the Season of Miracles has in store for us this week, so hold on tight! Til then, I love you all!
Elder Phan

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