My mission definitely hasn't been ordinary. From the moment I got my call to serve in Cambodia/Vietnam this has been an adventure and a half. I never imagined that being assigned to serve in the "homeland" would be like this - every week seeing my cousins, meeting people again that I met eight years ago while only traveling in Vietnam, and even having my own mother travel to the city every other month and trying to avoid running into her. I don't know what a "normal mission" is like, but this isn't what I expected.
One thing that I've learned while serving is an appreciation for my Vietnamese roots. Yeah, I know I was born and raised in America but being a halfsie has always been important to me. And if you knew me in high school you probably just knew me by the name Asian. I did, and still do take a lot of pride in being a Viet.
Another thing I have come to love and really appreciate is my cousins. Last summer my family and I went to the Manila, Philippines temple together. At the time I could barely communicate with them, really I could barely say their names correctly. And although my Vietnamese is still not that great, I am able to talk to them a lot, especially my cousin Hoàng! These past eleven months he has always helped me and encouraged me to do the best work I can for the Lord. Hoàng is the best and all Vietnamese girls should want to marry him...in the temple...maybe even this year....anywayyy...
I know the Lord answered my prayers when He allowed me to serve in Vietnam. But He didn't just send me here because He knows I thought it would be fun. I think the Lord knows that I'm really too weak and wouldn't be able to do this whole mission thing without my family's support. Missions aren't for quitters. When things get tough, when you're stressed or frustrated, you just have to make 1 phone call to the president and you can go home. They don't teach you this, but I learned it while in the MTC - if you want to go home, go. No one is going to force you to stay. No one is going to help you with your bags though because no one wants to see a missionary go home. To be honest a lot of us want to quit sometimes. I wanted to quit just three weeks ago - made the phone call and everything. Well, obviously I didn't go home because I'm currently in a really hot internet shop in Saigon. But yeah, sometimes this gets difficult. But because I have my family, I'm staying.
So let me tell you about what happened this past week and maybe you'll understand why I've told you of the importance of my family.
I have two cousins, Huy and Dung. They're Hoàng's brother, and sister-in-law. They're members but live far out of the city so I don't get the chance to see them too often. Dung was pregnant expecting a baby girl who was to be born this week. But, Tuesday morning I received a call and found out that Dung had had a miscarriage. From that morning, even until now I feel like this is a dream and that none of this has actually happened. I really wish that it didn't happen. I really really wish that this week I would have a new baby cousin. That's not God's plan though. This past week I have had to really practice what I preach and simply put my life in the Lord's hands and really trust that it is all part of His plan.
Tuesday afternoon I went to the hospital to visit. Being there was hard, really hard. The hospital was full and she just had to lay on a bed in the hallway. And in there we all just sat crying. You know when you're surrounded by people but you just kinda feel alone? (That may or may not be a song. I don't know.) I felt like that for a bit until I remembered one of my favorite scriptures in Alma 7: 11 - 12
I'm grateful that I didn't go home and I chose to stay here. I'm grateful for the numerous members who served and went to the hospital this past week to be with Huy and Dung. I'm grateful for families - the ones that are connected to you by blood, and also the ones that are connected to you through the gospel. I'm especially grateful that we have the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and knowing that we never really have to say goodbye to our families. And I'm grateful for temples that make eternal families possible.
Huy and Dung hope to go to the temple this year to be sealed as a family, and plan to move to the city so they can attend church regularly.
Lesson learned this week: Endure to the end - it's all part of His plan.
Watch this a million times because it's the best.