Week 55 : Baptism – Hanoi Zone Conference


Helloooooooo everyone! How is everybody’s week this week?

It’s been a pretty great week for us over here in ‘Nam! The biggest success was that our investigator Son got baptized! It was an awesome day to finally see him take that step. The really stressful part was that President Funk of the Asia Area 70 presidency was in Vietnam for the week and he attended that baptism, so we had to make sure everything ran really smoothly. Satan got in the way a little bit with some technical issues revolcing around a laptop and a projector, but we got it all figured out with a prayer. So lesson learned, the power of prayer of works, especially when a baptism in front of a general authority of the church is on the line haha. The experience was amazing. I felt like I was on a spiritual high for the entire evening.
This week we also had a very spiritually uplifting zone conference where we all got to learn a lot about finding new investigators. Afterwards, we got to have interviews with our mission president and his wife, and something she shared with me was really profound. I mean, everything she tells me is profound, but this part especially so. We were talking about charity, something that I’ve been working on trying to acquire these past couple months, and I’ve made some progress.
The next step I wanted to try was acquire empathy. Something that’s still a little hard for me is that I can understand in my head that a person may be feeling sad, and know what the appropriate response is, but I don’t actually feel anything. Sister Hassell gave great insight on how to better acquire, but the thing that hit me the most was the comparison she made between approval and appreciation. We’ve grown up in a culture where a person’s value, ie how much we love a person or what we think of a person, is based on how much we approve of them and what they do. It’s different from appreciation, where we can love them in spite of shortcomings and faults, because we know they are trying. One thing Sister Hassell has learned in her 60 some years of experience is that it is very hard for a lot of Mormon families is appreciate rather than approve. There’s a lot of expectations in being a Mormon. I’ve felt it. A lot of it is something along the lines of “you gotta keep God’s commandments, you gotta go to church, you gotta pray, you gotta read scriptures, you gotta do this and that…” As a personal anecdote, a big goal of an LDS parent is to live together with their family forever in Heaven, and obviously to go to Heaven, you need to live your life in accordance to God’s rules. As good as that is, there’s danger in letting those expectations of your children get in the way of you TRULY (I hope that’s enough emphasis) loving and appreciating your children. We get so caught up in wanting our families to grow up to be good people living in good LDS families that we lose sight of the fact that God doesn’t care so much about what we are able to accomplish in this life as much as He does about us preserving our relationships within our family at all costs and appreciating them no matter where they choose to go in life. Coming from someone who was raised very much in a culture of expectations and a standard to live up to those expectations, this was an eye opener to me. I’ve interacted with people in my life who have shown appreciation for things in some of its purest forms. In the beginning, it was so hard for me to wrap my head around it. I disapproved of that mentality. In my head, it was always like, “why would not love someone enough to expect more from them?” Now, my mind is opening. I’m not perfect at loving someone in spite of everything yet, but those people I know who can do, I admire very much and they have played a very special role in teaching me.
It’s nice to know that I still have a long way to go in life before I get this down. It makes life more interesting. Hopefully everyone has a great week this week. If anyone has any advice on how I can increase empathy, or if you just want to share your thoughts of how to meld appreciation and expectations together, especially from the perspective of a parent, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Love you all lotz,
Elder Phan
Pictures: The 3D art museum we went to this last P-day, the baptism, and other stuff



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