This week was a very interesting week, and I learned a lot. I’ll talk a little about that after talking about how our week went.
So a lot of the usual stuff happened. We taught a few lessons throughout the week, had meetings, did some contacting, did English class, the usual. Our investigator pool is down to 1 person now. His name is Anh Son, but he’s super awesome. There was one day during the week where we actually taught twice in one day. It was weird, but it worked out and he’s progressing really well.
On Saturday, our branch had the baptism of one of the sister missionary’s investigators. They really work hard. I’m convinced that sister missionaries are given some sort of special powers that give them the ability to work as hard as 2 companionships of Elders. The baptismal service was awesome.
Ok we got that done, now moving on the stuff I learned this week. Brace yourself because this is going to be a long one…
Essentially, Heavenly Father chastised me big time and I learned a hard lesson from Him on relying on and acting upon His spiritual promptings.
It all started when I forgot a folder full of records on the public bus (missionary work is big on record-keeping by the way). Those records were pretty important and a lot of it was private information of other people, so we called the Hanoi bus system and reported the missing folder, on the off-chance that someone might find it and turn it in. Later that day, we got a call back from the bus people, and during that conversation, I had absolutely no clue what this lady was saying to me.
All I got out of it was that we had to go to some address and then call a certain number. The audio on the phone was bad, this lady spoke like a Vietnamese machine gun, and I am garbage when it comes to spelling Vietnamese words from what I hear, so it was a bad time. Needless to say, the lady on the other end was very frustrated with me by the end. Nevertheless, I wrote what I thought I heard, and then we sacrificed an hour out of our day to look for this street name on our map. Turns out I had heard the name of street wrong over the phone, so after a 2nd call to the bus people, we got the right street name written down. Even then, the street was STILL not on our map, so we then called the missionaries working in the mission office to look that street up for us on Google maps. Thanks to their direction, we found the general vicinity of the street on our map in an area that was pretty far from where we were at the moment.
At that point, my companion started talking about going all the way over there to retrieve the records. By that time, I was seriously mad about the whole situation and how much time we were wasting in trying to find this place. We had already wasted an hour trying to find the general area, and now he was considering going there with no idea HOW we would get there, where EXACTLY the street was, much less the building itself, on the off-chance that the missing records MIGHT be there. In my mind, it was a total shot in the dark and therefore a complete waste of our time. I made those thoughts very clear to my comp, that losing those records really wasn’t too big of a deal. Almost everything in that folder could be easily replaced and redone, and whatever could not be replaced wasn’t absolutely essential that we have them. In my mind, it definitely wasn’t essential enough to justify going on this wild goose chase. Every single fiber of my natural man raged to stay put because that was what made the most sense to me. But we decided to pray about it, and as we prayed, I focused on letting go of what I wanted (and mind you, I wanted to stay put very very badly) and opening my mind and heart to what God wanted me to do. Looking back now, when I presented the Lord with those 2 options, go or stay, I got a clear answer. My frustrations were wiped away and replaced with a measured sense of peace towards the idea of going. In hindsight, it was a clear answer, but at the time, I interpreted it to mean that either option was fine, which I felt was completely unhelpful. In that moment of great need to know for sure what to do, I demanded a loud and clear answer from God.
So after stewing about it for a few minutes, I finally said “You know what, forget it. I can regret this later” and told my comp, let’s go get the records. To be completely honest, my main motivation for going was to settle the matter and prove to both of us this was a dead end.
In the end, it was God who proved me wrong. We ended up calling one more time and figuring out exactly where this place was, and then took a taxi there. Lo and behold, there was our folder of records. Elder Cong was ecstatic, but I felt more subdued as I realized that I was on the wrong side of God. Against all sense of human logic and judgment, God pulled off a small miracle to teach me the value of trusting in His promptings.
I see now that that answer I got was clear, I was just unwilling to act upon it. We give a lot of flak to Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon for seeing so many times in which God has worked His miracles in front of them, and yet they are “easy to forget the Lord their God”. Like, these guys have seen angels, and yet after that they still doubt His works. I always used to think they were such goofs for forgetting so easily. What I realized from this experience is that I’m a lot more like Laman and Lemuel than I thought, and now I don’t blame them so much. This isn’t the first time that I’ve clearly seen God’s hand in my life, and yet it seems like every single time another opportunity comes up to trust Him, I’m still skeptical.
A few months ago, an experienced missionary once asked me how, as you get farther along in your mission, do you differentiate between and continue to rely upon the promptings of the Holy Ghost rather than your own acquired experience. I’ve always been a huge champion of human ability and intellect, so the answer that I gave was that God works His miracles through the abilities of His servants. As we gain more experience, we give God more tools in which to work with. I’ve learned from this last experience that that is not always true. Sometimes, God throws you a curveball that defies anything logical. Obvious lesson that I’ve heard before, but He really hammered it into me this time. I’ve learned that I still have a long way to go in terms of humbling myself enough to follow His promptings without question.
So that’s what I learned this week. This email is crazy long already, so to those who made it all the way through to the end, congratulations and sorry it took so long. Thanks for bearing with me and allowing me to share this experience with you. Love you all and good luck with next week!
Love, Elder Phan
-A lunch appointment with some members
-Continuing on with the tradition of picking up dead animals, here’s a snail that my comp accidentally stepped on as we were walking
-A cool little hill that we found
-The wreckage of a tree in front of the church after a storm
-Our investigator, Anh Son, with Dung, a member (he’s the one in the glasses)
-“I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun…”
-A random pig we found tied up to a stop sign. I don’t think it’s future is going to be too bright. I felt kinda bad for it.