Week 68: What a week!

What a week!

We’ve been busier this week than any other time in my mission that I can remember! Maybe it’s cause this area is so rich, maybe it’s the drive to do more than we thought we could do before, maybe it’s because our missionary skills are getting a tad better, I don’t know. But it’s been rewarding. We set some pretty ambitious goals as a companionship this week and to be completely honest with you all, we didn’t come anywhere close to it hahaha. What can I say? You can put in all the work and be busy and feel that satisfaction of a hard day’s work, as well as God’s approval for your sacrifices for that day, and still not the numbers you were looking for. It increses my testimony that this work is about souls, not the number of people you have ready for baptism.
In reflecting this week about this work and the toll that it takes on us as servants of Jesus Christ, I’ve found that it would be easy to focus too much on feeling that because of lack of numbers, it would be easy for missionaries to feel discouraged and think, “Why don’t I have more investigators? If our message is so great and, more importantly, true, then why aren’t people just walking into this baptismal font by the thousands?” In other words, why is this so hard??? I read a talk from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland this week that shed some light on this subject. He talked about the Savior and his Atonement, the gravity of it, and what that means for us as spiritual witnesses and storytellers of that event and sacrifice. He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane as He took upon himself the sins of all the world, so much so that He bled from every pore; He was smitten, tortured, and spat upon by those who did not understand or chose not to understand who He was and the purpose of His mission; He was led up to the hill and, as a final sacrifice, was crucified. During that process of Atonement that none of us can really understand, He was recorded to say things such as “Father, if thou be willing, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done” and “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
So what does that have tro do with missionary work? To paraphrase Elder Holland, he says that missionary work is not easy because SALVATION IS NOT A CHEAP EXPERIENCE! The work of enduring through life’s trials was never easy, nor was it ever meant to be. How could we ever think it would be easy for us when it was NEVER easy for Him. Even Christ, the greatest of all of us, saw it fit to ask God, in a sense, “Why is this so hard?” so it’s no wonder why many aspects of life, missionary work or otherwise, and ultimately salvation shouldn’t also be difficult. To quote from Elder Holland, “If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way…When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived.” I remember reading in Paul’s epistle to the Phillipians: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake. (Phillipians 1:29)
I can definitely say that a knowledge and faith in that has increased my capacity to cope with life’s trials, but only to hope, but to find joy in it! We can get all weighed down by the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice that sometimes we forget why He did it. He did it so that we may, in the end, receive everlasting joy! That’s the message that we as missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints live and preach everyday for 2 years, and as members of this church for the rest of our lives. I’ve seen evidence of that in my life. Just last night as I was lying on my bed and thinking about the work we’ve been doing, I noticed how much my charity has grown towards others (remember this is something I’ve been working on for a looong time). I LOVE the people I am serving. I know I’ve said that in my past few emails and at this point it may sound corny, but it’s so true. There’s this feeling in my chest that just feels like it’s always expanding, to the point where there’s not enough room to contain it, and no matter how much I try and express that out loud to try to vent some of the pressure, nothing happens. Words can’t adequately describe the feeling of love you get towards others while you’re on your mission. It’s like the Source of that love is infinite or something🤔🤔🤔
I am absolutely convinced that in your 20-21 years of living on this Earth, the people that you meet on your mission will be the best people you will ever meet up to that point. One of the ironies of that is you only get to spend 2 years with the greatest people ever whom you love so very much, but the important thing is you get to feel that way towards them through constant service. If you’ve ever wondered what the Celestial Kingdom feels like, try serving a mission with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, and God will give you a glimpse of what it’s like. That gratitude and appreciation and love that you receive through service and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes all the struggles of missionary work worth it. So take joy in your struggles because the rewards more than make up for it. And in the end, all this is possible because we have a loving Heavenly Father who sent His Son down to the Earth to atone for our sins. And as his representatives here on the Earth, we honor that sacrifice through our service.
Have a great week everybody!
Elder Phan
A few pictures of us with some of the recent converts,

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