I think it’s week 6 now??? I don’t know. It’s crazy how fast time flies. Next thing I know, I’ve been out for a transfer.
This week has by far been the best week on my mission so far. I’ve learned so much just from my personal studies and from teaching and just observing this week and it’s been really enlightening. But first, I’ll talk about what’s happened so far.
On Tuesday we got to teach Anh Tài and Anh Khánh (the former is a recent convert and the latter is one of our investigators). Anyways, I got to share a lot with them in Vietnamese and the lessons went really well. Afterwards, to celebrate a good day, we decided to get PIZZA HUT!!!! The pizza here is pretty expensive by Vietnamese standards. Most meals here cost like 30,000 VND, which is about a dollar and a half in USD. Our pizza was about 240,000 VND, with another 30,000 for aliter of Sprite. Like I said, by Vietnamese standards, it was pricey, but that Tuesday was a buy one get one free day, so we got 2 pizzas and it was completely worth it! I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed meat lovers pizza! Continuing on with the topic of food, I also had the opportunity to eats little grubs in this restaurant owned by a member. It wasn’t gross per se, it was just the fact that I was putting a little grub in my mouth. It actually tasted like beans, so it wasn’t the most awful thing I’ve ever eaten. As we were biking home one day, we came across this giant snail, and we thought it would be a good idea to try to cook it and have a giant escargot. 2 problems with that: 1. We don’t know how to make an escargot, and 2. I made the mistake of naming the snail. Now, because I named it, I’ve formed an emotional attachment to it, which means I can’t bring myself to eat it. His name is Ferbie. We’re still on the fence about what to do with him, because as missionaries we’re not supposed to have pets (does a snail count as a pet though?). I think what we’re gonna do is just put him in this potted plant on our patio and just leave him to it. Everyone wins that way.
In other news, our English class Wednesday night went really well. Elder Toàn and I put a lot of effort into preparing the lesson this week, and all of our students were really engaged. It helped that our lesson was also relatively easy to teach (it was about moods and behaviors). It’s not exactly traditional missionary work, but we always share a spiritual thought afterwards and almost everyone stays to listen. No one has come up to us yet to learn more, but that’s ok, I’m happy doing whatever I can, and I know that if I keep doing that, the Lord will bless our labors.
We had a companion exchange this week, for a day. Elder Nguyên and I went down to the Ha Dông district with Elder Khiêm, while Elder Toàn stayed in our district with Elder Khiem’s comp, Elder Thoai. It was a good exchange, the biggest thing happening is that we came out to the garage that morning and discovered that Elder Khiem’s bike got stolen! It was ok though, cause his bike was kinda meh, so he can get a better bike now.
Sunday was by far the best day. I learned so much as I attended church. The biggest thing I learned is that there’s a certain Spirit that a person feels only when they don’t understand what’s going on. In my situation, that’s me when I’m listening to someone teach in Vietnamese. I still struggle to follow along with what the speaker’s are saying, but more on that later. I think that there are 2 ways you can get something out of a message: your understanding of the message within your mind, and the way that message makes you feel. When I hear a church speaker deliver a message in English, I am capable of feeling both, but I find that their message gets incorporated more in my head than it does the heart, because they’re standing right in front of me and I can physically hear and understand what they are saying to me. It’s easier to understand in my head what they are saying, rather than listen to what the Holy Spirit is speaking to me on the inside. Take away the English and where does that leave me? Yep, where I am now, sitting in church in Vietnam with almost no clue what’s being said to me. My ability to understand with my head is removed, which means the only way I can get something out of that message is through what I feel. I know that it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I can feel something different when I listen to someone teach me in a different language. I no longer have that crutch of intellectual understanding to lean on, and instead have to rely completely on what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me, and that’s a testimony that transcends any language barrier. The Spirit really can testify of truth. I know that if I were able to understand that speaker word for word, I would not have been as impressed, because it was short, simple, and there were lots of pauses and “ummm”s. But in actuality, because of my lack of understanding, I could see a young person, who maybe didn’t know much, go up to the podium and testify to a crowd of people to the best of her ability of what she did know. There were no notes, just her, her scriptures, her thoughts, and her feelings towards her assigned topic. And even though it was simplle, it was still simple truth. That’s what I was able to feel. I saw her willingness to stand up there and testify to the best of her ability and I was able to see God’s light in her countenance and know that what she was saying was true. It was an awesome thing for me to learn, that there is power in simple truth.
Finally, that night, President Hassell, our mission president dropped a bomb on us. He called us that night and told us that there was going to be an emergency transfer (transfers are in 2 weeks). Basically, a missionary went home, and because there are so few missionaries in Vietnam, his companion is now by himself. He’s been getting by for the past week by joing another companionship and making it a tri-panionship. It’s not the most effective system, but that’s how they’ve been getting by. Unfortunately, 2 two week tri-panionship means less effective missionary work down south, so Pre. Hassell called to make an emergency transfer down to Saigon, and the person who was chosen to go down was me. It makes sense. Missinoariesa go in two’s and with one missionary down there and a tri-panionship of our own up here, that math isn’t hard. I’ll admit, I’ll be sad to leave Hanoi. You don’t realize how much you’ve come to care for the people you serve and the people you serve with until they’re gone. It’s especially hard because it’s so unexpected and it was just when I was getting to figure out everything up here. BUt tranfers are a reality of missionary work and I’ve accepted that. I look forward to working in Saigon, I’ve heard a lot fo good things about it, and I’ve also heard a lot of things that I can do to help make it better. President hopes to get me there ASAP, so it’s very likely that my next email will be from Saigon.
Until then, I love you all! Stay safe and stay happy and I will talk to you all next week!