Week 21th – Happy New Year 2017 – My New Companion

 

So I finally figured out for certain what week I’m on on my mission, so there’s no more need for confusion, at least until next week when I forget what week I’m on again. But anyways, HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYONE!!! I hope that everyone had an incredible Christmas and is having great New Year’s celebration. Before I start my email, I wanted to share my gratitude and thanks to everyone who said happy birthday. I really appreciated the well-wishes and my heart goes out to you all! That day was a day dedicated to service. Elder Tri and I helped the sister missionaries move apartments, and then we had a dinner appointment with a member and our investigator Anh Tay. Haha, they didn’t know it was my birthday, so they decided to just stick a candle in the fish we had for dinner and sang happy birthday. It was pretty awesome. But anyways, on to the new stuff.

Last P-Day, we went to this place called Monkey Island as a zone, and obviously, it’s called monkey island for a reason. These monkey are so much more aggressive than the monkleys at Black Virgin Mountain(Núi Bà Đen  – Tây Ninh) that we hiked. Three members of our group got jumped: one senior missionary got bitten (which results in 4 visits to the hospital to get a total of about 24 shots for disease), another senior missionary got her glasses stolen, and finally a missionary got his big bottle of Tang opened and spilled, and the monkeys swarmed to drink from the puddle. It was kinda chaotic. Other than that, that’s basically all we did in terms of secular stuff.
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Now on to the spiritual things.
 Remember a couple weeks ago, I was pondering about what the Lord had in store for me? Well, over the course of the past 2 weeks, I got an answer, at least for the near future. We had transfer calls 2 Sundays ago and we found out where we will all be serving next. Elder Tri is being transferred up to Hanoi, to serve in the same area as Elder Nguyen, one of my other old companions. Elder Toan, my other old companion, is being transferred from Hanoi down to the Tan Son Nhat branch here in Saigon. As for me? I’m staying in Thao Dien, where I am now called to be the new district leader, which basically means I’m responsible for the overseeing all the missionaries in my district and making sure that the Work progresses in Thao Dien. In addition to that, we also have some brand new missionaries fresh from the MTC! For those of you that don’t know, Vietnam had a policy where the missionaries that were allowed to come to the country were those of Vietnamese descent. That policy was recently lifted, so with this new batch of missionaries, we now have the first group of pure Caucasians, 2 of which are going to Thao Dien.
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So on top of my district leader responsibilities, I’m also training one of the missionaries. His name (English name I mean), is Elder Craghead, but in Vietnam he’ll go by Elder Dat (or Anh cả Đạt) . He’s a really cool guy who really has a desire to serve and work hard, so it’s been quite rewarding to work with him the past few days. I’ll be honest, it was pretty hard saying bye to Elder Tri. We went through a ton together and I honestly love the guy. It was hard for him too because he spent 8 months working on Thao Dien to build it up, and came to love it as he served there. Now to leave the branch in the hands of a group of still-new missionaries is bound to be worrisome. Tears were shed when we said bye to each other. The other new Elder in Thao Dien is named Elder Dung (no, it’s not pronounced like it sounds). He’ll be trained by Elder Vinh, the missionary that I alwasy go on exchanges with, who is now transferred to the Thao Dien area.
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In light of these 2 new responsibilities, I can honestly say that in the beginning, I felt completely inadequate. I saw the difficulties that Elder Tri faced being a district leader and training at the same time (not to say I was a difficult trainee), and I though to myself, “How can I possibly handle things as well as he did?” He really was a role-model for me though, and as I took upon myself these new responsibilities, I tried to apply a lot of the attributes that he applied. But most importantly, I’ve really tried to rely on the grace of God, because I know that in no way can I accomplish this work on my own. For whatever reason, the Lord saw fit to call a then-18 year old kid who was only 4 1/2 months out on his mission and still vastly inexperienced to be responsible over a small part of his kingdom.
The amount of trust He has for someone as imperfect as I am is truly humbling, but at the same time so edifying. As I’ve gone through these 1st few days training and leading, I’ve seen so many small miracles. To start off, I made a goal to be the most diligent missionary that I can be. If there’s any free time that we have, we’ll make use of it either studying or contacting. These past few days, Elder Dat and I have come home each night exhausted, but I can’t help but feel so satisfied with the work that the Lord was able to accomplish through us. And we’ve truly seen His help. We’re finding new people that He has placed in our way as a blessing for our diligence.
I’ll end my email right here, and I’d like to close with a scripture from the Book of Mormon. Alma Chapter 26:11-12

 11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
 12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boastof my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

Love you all and see you next week! Elder Phan

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