Monday, July 27, 2015

Tình yêu thương - MTC Week 3

The Vietnamese word of the week is: "Tình yêu thương" (tin ay-oo tounge) as in love (n). As in, nothing can separate us from the tình yêu thương of Christ (more on that later)!

Another week at the MTC, and I'm starting to understand the paradox of time. A day drags on for a week, but after a day it's already P-day again. The district is starting to get a bit restless; we want to go to Australia/Cali/Texas already! Of course, none of us are ready as far as the language is concerned, but it's hard to see English speakers come after us and leave before us. Speaking of which, we ran into 2 Melbourne English speakers who will be out of training by the time we leave the MTC! Oi. It's okay with me, though. I love Vietnamese, and I know the Lord has a purpose for me. :)

This week, we had TRC! That's when we get to teach members lessons, and they get to give us feedback on how it went! So, how did it go? Here's the feedback we got:

Not too shabby, eh? We really do need to focus on engaging the investigators more, though. We're still learning how to teach in Vietnamese, but we need to learn how to discuss. I was super nervous beforehand, but I felt pretty good about it afterward. It was a good experience, and I'm grateful that we got to do it.

In other news, we get new names in two weeks! New names? Yep. Apparently, Vietnamese elders get new names because sometimes people can't pronounce names like, "Erekson," "Mandhart," or "Leonhard." (Our teachers) What's your new name Elder Erekson!? I have no idea. Our teachers won't tell us until the name tags come. It'll be really exciting when they do though, right? I'll be sure to send pictures with the new tag(s) when they come! 

This week, I had the wonderful opportunity to be an answer to someone's prayer. As I was being interviewed by my Zone Leader, he felt impressed to ask me to bear a simple testimony instead of his usual sharing a spiritual thought with me. Previously in the week, I had been prompted to study out of the New Testament, and I knew exactly what I was going to share: Romans 8:35-39.

 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

He said he'd been struggling with what to tell two of his investigators, and that this was just what he needed. What a blessing!

I'd just like to bear my testimony that the above verses are true. Nothing, I repeat NOTHING can separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. No matter what you've done, turning to Him is the way to be happier and experience true joy. I know that my Savior loves me. I testify that He loves you, too, and nothing can separate you from that love unless you choose not to feel it. I exhort you to pray to feel His love UNTIL you feel His love. It's worked for me, and His love is one of the greatest joys we can experience in this life. I share these things in the sacred name of His beloved Son, our Savior, even Jesus Christ, amen.

I love you all! Remember that the gospel is true in every nation, to every kindred, and in every tongue! Above all, remember that God loves you perfectly, unconditionally. :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Thường Để - MTC Week 2

Vietnamese word of the week: Thường Để! As in, God, our Heavenly Father, our best source of peace, love, and guidance. :)

Another week has gone by already, eh? Wow, that was fast. And incredibly slow at the same time. It's very paradoxical here; a day feels like a week, but a week feels like an hour. How is that possible? I don't know. The Lord has a different conception of time, I guess.

Anyway, let me tell you about our first baptism. Well, commitment to baptism. We asked Dung, our investigator, to prepare to be baptized, and lo and behold, he accepted! YAY! :) Except, he's not our investigator anymore. Boo. :( It turns out, Dung is not Dung at all! He's our mysterious third teacher, Tai! What...? It's pretty weird. I felt really close to Dung and sad that we wouldn't be teaching him anymore, but I never dreamed he would be teaching US! It'll be fun, though. :) I really felt love for him, and I'm excited to teach- not one, but TWO- investigators this week. They're our other teachers roleplaying, but that doesn't matter. I really need to practice loving the people and teaching like the Lord's missionary because that's who and what I want to be. :)

I got to go to the Provo Temple this week! It's gorgeous and nothing like what we have back home. I'm kidding, of course. It's pretty normal for me to go there, but it does feel different going as a missionary with my companion. It helps me feel closer to home even though I'm only 10 minutes away. :) It also helps me feel closer to my heavenly home, which is where we're all trying to go.

I got sick this week. Just the common cold, but it makes it hard to speak Vietnamese when you're coughing all the time. I'm loving the language, though! I'm staying pretty on pace with the class, and I love saying my prayers in Vietnamese. I especially love saying prayers in Vietnamese for my Vietnamese investigators. There's a special spirit in studying for and praying about people whom Heavenly Father has trusted to you to teach. Like I said earlier, even though it's roleplaying, I still feel the true love of our Father in Heaven.

Let's see, what else... The district is going well. We're all a little crazy and tired at night, but that's to be expected, isn't? A bunch of 18/19 year-olds in a room for 12 hours a day. My scripture study has been going really well. I'm not reading the BoM as fast as I'd like to, but I'm focusing on learning about faith. I'm in Mosiah, and wow, King Benjamin is a master of faith. I love learning about it. PMG is such a great book! If you haven't read it, I suggest that you do. I love it so much, and not just for teaching. The lessons stress that we are to learn, love, live, and THEN we can teach the doctrines therein, and the clear language with which it expresses the doctrine is amazing.

I'm running out of time, I'm afraid, but I hope you all have a fantastic week! :)

I was feeling homesick this week, but I took great comfort in the words given to the prophet Joseph Smith in D&C 100:1-2:
" 1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power.

 2 Therefore, follow me, and listen to the counsel which I shall give unto you."

I know that the Lord is taking care of all of you, and I'm going to try my best to follow His counsel that you all may be in His hands. I testify that Jesus Christ loves you and is our Lord and Savior, and through Him, we can have not just immortality, but eternal life. I love you! :)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Xin Cháo! - MTC Week 1

Vietnamese word of the week: Xin Cháo! As in, "hello!"

Wow, what a week. It's only been 4 days in the MTC, but let me tell you, the first 3 days feel a lot like your first 3 weeks! It's a lot of the same stuff over and over again, but that can be pretty nice, especially when it's a lot of gospel goodness! Let's see, where to begin...

Day one, our teachers told us they would not be speaking English. Period. (In Vietnamese, of course.) There are six of us in our district, and the first day we learned a lot about our purpose and how to say, guess what, Xin Cháo! We went to a lot of different classes and workshops that tried to drill into us that we teach people not lesson. We have to love and see the people as Christ does. We shouldn't go into a lesson thinking what am I going to say? but rather, what do they need? What would Christ have them know? I'm really excited to be able to know and feel that about people.

The next day, we taught our first investigator. Did we speak English? Nope. "Anh Cả (Elder) Erekson," you ask, "you mean to tell me you taught your first lesson in Vietnamese on the second day there? Wow!" To which I say, yes, but don't be so impressed. We spoke only Vietnamese, but we didn't know or speak a whole lot. We essentially asked him if he knew much about Jesus Christ, tried to understand his responses, and prayed. Oh, day three here we did learn how to pray. Our teacher challenged us to pray only in Vietnamese, and our district has been rock solid at it. This accomplishment is actually pretty impressive because we're actually talking to our Heavenly Father and expressing feelings and desires in Vietnamese! Woah! Don't worry, I've been praying for you all even though I don't know how to say very much as of yet.

The second time we taught our investigator, Dũng, was the next day. I'm not even kidding. We had one day to prepare another discussion and teach again in a language we hardly knew. This time, though, we felt more prepared and felt the spirit more powerfully. We read from the Book of Mormon, and I felt a lot more at peace and confident in my abilities to serve the Lord as long as I turn to Him.

Anyway, I think I'm getting a little ahead of myself. I apologize; I've never written an email as a missionary before! I think it's about time I introduce my companion, Anh Cả Marshall. He's from Las Vegas, and we're basically twins. He took 4 years of German in high school, will be studying Electrical Engineering at BYU, Provo after his mission, and is the third of four children. And the real kicker? We're both going to Melbourne, Australia speaking Vietnamese! It's very likely that we'll be companions again once we're out in the field. How cool is that? Does the Lord know us or what?

My district, as mentioned above, has 6 people in it. Anh Cả Marshall, Anh Cả Roberts, Anh Cả Bakes, Anh Cả Hustead, Anh Cả Luu, and myself, Anh Cả Erekson! 3 of us are actually going to Melbourne (Anh Cả Marshall, Anh Cả Roberts, and me!), 2 are going to california (Aniheim and San Juan), and 1 is going to Texas (Anh Cả Bakes). They're wonderful elders, and I'm so lucky and blessed to get to know and work with them. Attached is a picture of all of us from our temple walk. Anh Cả Marshall is the one that's not smiling. :) ( Anh Cả Luu, Anh Cả Hustead, Anh Cả Erekson, Anh Cả Marshall, Anh Cả Bakes, and Anh Cả Roberts.)

Speaking of loving my district, on Friday, I was called as district leader. Wow. I feel a lot of responsibility on top of trying to figure everything out at the MTC. Regardless, I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve and learn so much from my district, and these elders have already reminded me the importance of doctrinal study, prayer, and keeping a positive attitude.

All in all, I'm feeling really great. My P-days are on Mondays, I get to study the gospel for hours on end every single day, and I'm doing the right thing at the right place. Do I miss you guys? Like crazy. But I trust in the Lord to keep you all safe and happy as you turn to Him. I'd like to share something that I got out of Elder Oaks's talk given at President Packer's funeral. He said "Where there is love, there is sadness at separation." I definitely felt sadness when I left you guys, and went to give my all to the Lord, but that's such a blessing! That means that I love you guys so much, and I know that through Jesus Christ, who loves us all more than we can comprehend, my love for you will only grow. I invite you to pray to feel His love for you and for others. As you do, I testify that He will help you feel loved, and He will help you know what you need to do.

As for me, I'm serving Him! I love you all, you're in my (Vietnamese) prayers, and until next time, Tôi biết ơn Cha Thiên Thượng của chúng ta về Phùc Am cua Chúa Giê Su Ky Tô. I am grateful to our Heavenly Father for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love you! :)