AAAHHHH it’s one more week until Christmas! And then 2 more days after that, it’s my birthday! I remember when I was younger, I used to be so proud that my birthday was so close to Christmas. But then as I got older, I realized that the whole “Christmas-and-birthday-presents-combined-into-one” thing was an actual reality in my life, so…….yeah…….but hey, at least as younger teenager, I could look forward to getting all those happy birthday announcements on Facebook from friends and family. That was always special and in my mind, words of affirmation like that meant more to me than whatever gifts I got. It also helps that from time to time, some of the gift that I got were textbooks (no joke), so it was much easier to appreciate messages haha.
But anyways, the prospect of celebrating Christmas and my birthday in the service of others is honestly a huge blessing that I can barely look forward to! It really is an exciting thing. One thing that I’m especially grateful closer to this time of year is the examples of my parents. They made it very clear that when Christmas comes around, the amount of service that we give to others skyrockets, whether it be singing carols to various people or an exponential increase in homemade bread deliveries (I really miss that bread mom). So it’s nice that that lesson that I learned growing up carrying over into my missionary service, especially now.
This week was filled with lots of special experiences for me. First an foremost, this last Monday after my very short email to everyone, we went to get BBQ ribs with some members. BBQ RIBS!!! Like American BBQ ribs! I think when we walked in, Elder Tri, being a Southern Texan, was convinced that he had just walked straight into Heaven.
In light of the service we’ve been rendering to others, I had the opportunity to administer 3 blessings throughout the week to various people. One was a blessing of comfort to a sister missionary, which was the first time I’ve given someone a blessing in Vietnamese. The second and third were blessings for the sick and afflicted to 2 different members of the branch. There’s been a lot of opportunities to be a vessel for the power and authority of God in order to render help to those in need.
Just yesterday, we also had a companionship exchange. Elder Tri went with another Elder to District 6, while I stayed behind in Thao Dien with Elder Vinh and I led out in that area. We had the opportunity to teach 2 lessons to investigators that day, and it was Elder Vinh’s first time teaching investigators in the field, and so as we planned those lessons, taught, and discussed teaching skills, we had the opportunity to see the hand of the Lord guide us. At the end of the day, we both learned a lot from each other, Elder Vinh especially.
I’m just glad that God is able to work through someone as imperfect as I am in order to help His other children. It certainly makes me want to be better for Him so that I can make His job easier. It makes me wonder sometimes, what does God have in store for an 18, almost 19 year old kid, who’s only been out on his mission for 4 months. Being the imperfect person that I am, what work does He have for me to accomplish in this life? It’s a tough question for sure, and one that I think only patience, reflection, and above all else, time will answer. I’ve been reading lately the biography of President Henry B. Eyring, and it amazes me the pressures that he endured in his student, professional, and ecclesiastical service to make him the man that he is today. And all the other General Authorities have similar stories. They’re such hard workers, and they wouldn’t be able to do what they did and still do now if it weren’t for the Spirit of God to bolster them up. As intimidating as it is to wonder if perhaps similar things are in my future, I also feel hope that the Lord will bolster me in the same manner to do whatever He would have me do. I’ve seen evidence of it so far, so who’s to say it won’t continue?
As I continue to ponder about these questions, I’ve come to feel closer to my Heavenly Father and have faith in knowing that He has a plan for me. I reeeeaaaaally wish I knew what that plan was, cause there are a few times where it seems like I’m running into brick walls, while up in Heaven, God is face-palming himself and thinking “this kid has a long ways to go…” In any case, I’m grateful for His patience with me as I strive to do my best. I hope everyone is having a fantastic Christmas (or Hannukah or Kwanzaa. Or all three if you’re feeling ambitious😅) I hope that we can all remember the true meaning of Christmas this coming week and serve our fellow men and women! I love you all and happy holidays!
Love, Elder Phan
Pictures: Some angel wings that I found before English class, our various Christmas costumes for the upcoming branch Christmas party, and Elder Vinh and I getting into the Christmas spirit!
PS. I’m not exactly sure if I’ll be able to email next week because we have a zone P-day activity to Monkey Island. So if no one gets an email from me, and this is meant especially for Mom and Dad, I’m fine. Of course there’s still the chance that I’ll get attacked by monkeys like before, buuuut…we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Mom, I promise I will be safe and not do anything dumb to antagonize the apes. I love you!😅