Hello all you fine, wonderful, beautiful people!
This week was a pretty tough week, but there were a couple highlights that in my mind really made it worth it, and from that I learned something. I won’t share any of the stuff we did this week, because what I learned is more important.
This week we really tried to focus on bringing back members of the church that have become less-active (meaning that they haven’t been to church in months and/or haven’t been in contact with church members). Something that I learned about the establishment of the Church here is that it’s still so new in Vietnam, and the proper system isn’t established. In America, for LDS people at least, it’s generally a given that you gotta go to church every week (keep the Sabbath Day holy and all that. I’m pretty sure that any Christian that is devoutly religious takes that commandment pretty seriously). Vietnam, I’ve found, is generally much more secular. Their perspective is more on the wordly side/mortal life of things, and for some, it’s hard for them to grasp or keep in perspective that everything we do in this life affects what happens to us in eternity.
Going off on the Keep the Sabbath Day holy example, we believe that that is a day that we dedicate completely towards God. We attend church to renew promises that we made with Him, we spend time with our families, and we do not work or spend money (wordly things). Here in Vietnam, that culture is nowhere near as established. I guess allowances have to be made because the standard of living is lower here, and so people have to work harder to make a decent living, which includes on Sundays. But like I said before, everything we do in this life has an affect on the life after this. The less-active members who haven’t been to church because of work will have to realize that one day they are going to stand before the judgment seat of God and wish that they had treasured more that special day that they had to worship Him, rather than place more importance on the things of the world.
I don’t mean to come off as harsh. It’s not going to mean fire and brimstone. I believe that God is a God of mercy just as much as He is one of justice. But I guess my job as a missionary is to help others receive as much happiness as they possibly can, not just in this life, but in the eternity hereafter. The fullness of joy that one can possibly (or I suppose “impossibly” if we’re talking about the scope of eternity and salvation) is found when they follow the ordinances and commandments of God with as much exactness as possible. Those who give more of themselves to the the Lord will receive that in multiplied measure at the last day. So why not give more of yourself? Why seek to satisfy your worldly desires when there is so much more to be offered in Heaven? Will it require intensive sacrifice on your part? Absolutely! I can understand how hard it would seem to have to give up a day that you could be using to make more money so that you can praise and give thanks to a Higher Being that you don’t even know for sure exists. That’s where the strength of one’s faith and trust in God comes in. If you believe with all your heart that you have a Father in Heaven who LOVES YOU, loves you to the point where if you will take that time to give attention to Him, that He will bless your efforts in this life, then the sacrifice won’t seem like so much of a sacrifice will it?
I’ve seen the difference between these two sorts of people. #1 will say “I’m too busy to go to church this week. I HAVE to work. I’ll go when I have time”. As the weeks go by, their schedule doesn’t get any easier, they never end up going to church, their faith grows smaller because they are relying more on themselves than they are on God, their understanding of scriptural truths also diminish, and in the end, they might not be as happy as they could have been in the scope of eternity, or even in mortal life. Contrast that with person #2, who says “I know my life is hard, but I also know that if I am going to get through it, I NEED the Lord’s help and I will do everything I possibly can to qualify for it.” Person #2 has the eternal perspective in mind, and they know that no matter what happens, if they put God first, then they have His promise that their lives will be blessed. Maybe they still have trials in their lives, but rather than be burdened down by them, they are uplifted, because their foundation is rooted in their trust in God! Christ said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Person #2 follows whatever God asks of them, including going to church when it may seem inconvenient; they pray everyday for His help; they study their scriptures to increase their understanding and faith. Brothers and sisters, the difference between these two people is huge; I can testify of it because I’ve seen it here amongst the members of the Church here in Vietnam. Some are #1, some are #2, and the one’s who are like person #2 are filled with a greater Light that you just can’t find in #1. My hope as a missionary is to be able to help people change their perspective and think like #2. It’s not just the best thing to do, but it’s the only smart thing to do!
To close, I would like everyone to realize the significance of this eternal perspective and what it means. Christ suffered and died so that you can be saved and return to live with your Heavenly Father again. It’s a gift for you to accept, not to be forced upon you. In spite of that, only the foolish man would turn away from such a gift and live his life in such a way that does not honor and respect that sacrifice. To understand more about the significance of this sacrifice, I hope that everyone will take the time to go to this link and read this talk, titled “Abide in My Love,” given by a modern-day Apostle of the God’s true Church, and learn more for yourself. I love you all, and hope you all have a fantastic week.
Pictures: our new investigator Pikachu😝, the chronicle of dead animals continues, our new Thao Dien district, a pic of 4 of us Elders at the zoo last P-day, the missionaries of the Saigon zone, and a pic of all of us district leaders looking busy rearranging mission boundairies in the city