So this week has been pretty normal as far as Vietnam standards go, with a few things that happened.
That tuesday after I wrote, we went to meet a recent convert, who told us that he no longer wanted to be a part of the church. I won’t disclose his reasons for privacy sake, but we’ll leave it at that. He no longer wants religion to be a part of his life. It was sad to see. I didn’t know him that well, but I could see the devastation on the faces of my companions, and that hurt me to see someone that they worked so hard with and see them take that step in accepting Jesus Christ in his life, only to see them later step away from that. It’s tough to think that just when you have success, life throws a curveball at you. I think there’s an important principle in this experience to be learned. Baptism isn’t the end of our journey in order to be saved. It’s just the beginning. It is so essential that we are truly converted to the Lord. If we are not, then maybe it’s easy to walk away from those covenants that we make. That’s why enduring to the end is a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though we were disappointed that this member stepped away, we realized that he has to power to make his own choices. In the perspective of eternity, we know that eventually “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess” that Jesus is the Christ. So I know that in the end, he will come back to a knowledge of the truth. Whether he chooses to accept it or not is up to him, but I’ve taken comfort from those words, and it’s that promise that has allowed us to bounce back.
In other news, we had a baptismal service yesterday. It was the branch president’s 8 year old daughter. Remember when I said I was called to translate Vietnamese to English last week? Well it happened. I had to translate for one of the speakers at that service, and needless to say, I knew nothing haha, so I gave the microphone to Elder Toan to take over for me. I still need practice. On that same day, I was also called to go up and bear my testimony (in Vietnamese). It actually went well. I was also called the night before to help a member teach a lesson in Elder’s Quorum. It was a cool coincidence (or was it), because the book that we were teaching out of just happened to be from a book that I was reading in the church building that night I was called. As I was reading in it, I was impressed by what I read and decided to take the book home with me to read some more before I went to bed. Elder Toan and Nguyen were telling me to just pick it up tomorrow, but because I was stubborn, I though why not take it home now. I’m glad I did because lo and behold, once we got home, that member (Vuong) called us and asked if I could help him teach the lesson in church the next day from that very same book. We didn’t have a copy at home, so looking back, I saw that God’s hand was in there somewhere. I didn’t particularly feel a distinct impression to take the book home. I just enjoyed what I read in there, so I wanted to bring it home with me. I see now that it was the Lord who worked to have that book have such a profound effect on me in order to influence me to want to take it with me. It was a cool experience, and He really works in mysterious ways. In any case, I stayed up reading from the book in English, picking out parts I liked, and then translating it to Vietnamese on a piece of paper. Then I said a prayer to help me not completely botch this lesson the next day. Needless to say, the lesson went well. God granted me just enough understanding and ability to communicate and share just what I needed to share to get the point across.
Besides that little miracle, it’s beena a pretty normal week. We have 2 investigators, a man named Cong and a man named Khanh. Cong’s been taught since before I arrive, and he’s been ready to be baptized for a while now, but we’re just waiting for permission from his family. Khanh has been meeting with the missionaries for the best part of 2 years and hasn’t really made any commitments. He reads the Book of Mormon, he prays, and he goes to church, but we’ve been working with him to help him overcome a few more obstacles in his life. He’s been progressing in the time that I’ve been here, but I don’t know if that means anything in the long run. But we’re staying positive and working with him still. The important thing is to try and show love to the people you serve, For a guy serving in Vietnam and doesn’t know Vietnamese, and therefore is still trying to communicate effectively, sometimes the best he can do to communicate with others is a smile, a nice handshake, or ahug. Not to say that the Vietnamese isn’t working out. Every week, I’m improving, at least according to my companions and to the members.
It’s been great being able to write home to everyone. I love being able to share what we do over here, and even though it’s slow going, it’s always been a blast. Recently I was reading in Alma 26 and 29 and I was inspired by the example of Ammon and Alma. It makes me want to be a better missionary and I’ll somehow incorporate that into one of my personal goals this week. Till then!
Anh Ca Huy