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! :)