Week 13 – down and up

Xin chao tat ca moi nguoi (hello everybody)!

Fun fact that my dad shared with me about  the Vietnamese language a few years ago that for whatever reason just happened to stick with me. Vietnamese is made up completely of monosyllabic words. You never see a Vietnamese word with 2 or more syllables(see above or use google translate to confirm). I don’t know, that blew my mind when I first heard it.
Anyways it’s been an eventful week. But then, every week is eventful and depending on how you look at it, it can be a good week or a bad week. I’m happy to report that in spite of things that happened, it’s been a good week and I’m so happy with all the experiences I get to have here on my mission. So what are those experiences?
we had Halloween this monday, but we didn’t really do anything. It was just like any other day, with the exception that we saw more people out on the streets with funny costumes. It surprised me that Halloween was a thing over here too. From what I saw, it’s nothing overly huge, but it’s still celebrated. We also had our weekly English class this week and it was our companionship’s turn to teach the lesson this week. It mostly fell to me to create the lesson plan, cause Elder Tri wasn’t feeling too well this week, and plus it’s been 6 months since he’s taught an English class. And to be completely honest, I had no idea what to do with our lesson plan. This is why prayer is such a lifesaver! As I prayed to my Heavenly Father and told him I had absolutely no idea what to do and to please help me find a way to organize this lesson plan, my mind was opened. Suddenly, as I sat down to put ideas down for the lesson on paper, ideas flowed out and just seemed to organize themselves for me! In the end, that was probably the most that I’ve prepared for a lesson, and it turned out really good on paper. Granted for the actual English class, we had less than 10 people show up, so putting the lesson into practice wasn’t as  smooth as I hoped, but I’m grateful for the inspiration to magnify the things that I WAS able to do.
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Friday was a tough day. Just for whatever reason, I felt super off that day. All our lessons fell through, so we did contacting and studies. As we contacted, I remember feeling really discouraged because of how hard it is for me to go up and talk to people. I don’t know, my mind just goes blank sometimes after I say “hello” and “how are you”. It’s something that I’ve really been trying to improve on because it’s one of my weaknesses. Even though we got a lot of contacts that day, but I felt dissatisfied with my abilities to contact, like I said before. And then since all we had left to do was studies, we spent a loooooooooonnng time with that. I’ll be honest, I got bored in that time period. There’s not too much to do when a missionary feels bored. I couldn’t really talk to Elder Tri cause he hasn’t been too talkative lately what with being sick and all, and he was also really into his studying, so I didn’t want to disturb him. Anyways, the boredom, frustration, and overall need to talk to someone really weighed down on me that day, and it wasn’t fun. Literally the highlight of my day was talking to a security guard at the church building later that night. It wasn’t talking about church to try to get him to come closer to Christ or anything, just a normal conversation about everyday life. It wasn’t until we finished talking with him and went home that I realized how much I needed that. To be able to just talk to someone, not even about struggles or without feeling pressured to share the gospel with them, was a huge alleviation for me. I got to talk to a person, which took away my boredom; the conversation flowed and was completely in Vietnamese, which lessened my frustration a lot; and it just took my mind off of everything for a time. Something so small and seemingly insignificant really made an impact on me, and as I prayed that night and reflected on how my day went, I decided, instead of focusing on the frustration and the boredom and asking Heavenly Father to help me fix my problems, I’d express a prayer of utmost gratitude for that security guard and what he did for me, even if he didn’t realize it.
There’s a life lesson that we can learn from that. No matter how hard the day is, no matter how seemingly “dark” life may seem, there’s always a little light that we can find in each of our days, little things that we can recognize as blessings and be grateful for. And even though the dark may seem to outnumber of almost overwhelm the night, it’s our choice whether or not we want to pay any attention to that, or to the little lights that God has placed in our lives. As I’ve practiced positively throughout the past few weeks, I’ve found that not only is it becoming easier to recognize little blessings, but also to focus on those. Missionary work and life in general becomes much less difficult when you choose to look at the light. In the Book of Mormon, there’s a prophet named Alma, whose converts were living under oppression from those who didn’t believe in Christ. As they prayed to God, he gave them an amazing promise that I recommend everyone who has an opportunity to read (Alma 24: 10-16). I won’t quote the whole scripture cause this email is already so long, but I can absolutely testify that that promise the Lord gave to Alma is true. It was for me, and it can be for anyone who sincerely tries to apply it to their life.
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The repercussions of what I learned that day affected the rest of my week. As Saturday and Sunday came by, I found that whatever burdens I had on my shoulders were lifted. Even when on Saturday, we lost that awesome investigator I’ve talked about (Em Ngoc, the one whose come to church the past couple weeks), I’ve found it easy to bounce back, and the Lord blessed us with a new investigator this last Sunday. To everyone reading this, GOD IS THERE! Whether you believe it or not, He is always there and he will never abandon us. Only we abandon Him, and it’s not until we choose to acknowledge His presence in our lives can we truly see the miracles that we have every single day.
That’s my little uplifting message for this week, and I apologize that it was so long, but this was something really awesome that I learned, and I want to be able to share it with all of you! Love you all, and let’s all make it a good week this week so that we can all give Satan a bloody nose! Until next week! TTFN
Elder Phan
Pictures: Our English class for this week, a stuffed bear me and Elder Tri found as we were helping a member move houses, some pictures of the Vietnamese countryside, and the moon (first time I’ve ever seen it in Vietnam funny enough. take that image and apply it to what I was talking about before 😇)
Ooh, I wrote a letter for Ba Ngoai. I attached it here for her to read! hopefully it’s big enough for you to see and I hope my writing is readable!
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