"A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." Joseph Smith

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Great Shake Up of 2017

"I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." Luke 10:18 

They are calling it the great shake up. And no wonder. Eight new missionaries, after a brief stay over in Hanoi, arrived today in Ho Chi Minh City fresh from the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, USA or the MTC in Manila, Philippines - joining our forces here and ready to take on the world. 

Here are the eight, with their more seasoned companions!


He's happy with his new companion - really!  It was just late at night!!!  

"And they were all young…, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they … were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men (and women) of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him." Alma 53:20-21

"…. yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it." Alma 56: 47-48

They join our hard-working band, bringing fresh faith, energy, and enthusiasm.  They join those only slightly more seasoned than they, every one of them worthy to be called sons and daughters.

This past month Elder Coffey and I have been assigned to prepare for this very day, for their arrival. We spent hundreds of hours finding new apartments in new areas, getting the funding, signing contracts, getting keys, arranging the delivery of beds, desks, bikes, water dispensers, and mattresses - then assembling beds and arranging apartment repairs, all on different days because you'd think it could all be coordinated on one day, but not here..., then stocking the apartments with dishes, pans, fans and mops, getting everything ready, even to the making of their beds with new sheets and pillows!

Everything was ready. And then they came!

Jet-lagged, exhausted, and listening intently to last minute information
before heading out to their apartments.

No wonder the devil turned and ran!

Oh he'll be back, to be sure, but for tonight, for now, he is fled.

So we have new 
missionaries, new trainer assignments, new teachers, new senior assignments, new leadership roles, new apartments, new areas, assignments to new branches, goodbyes to those going home or to Hanoi, hello to those joining our forces.

Ho Chi Minh City now has 25 young missionaries in all, plus 6 seniors.  What a troop!
Hurrah for Israel!

It's the great shake up of 2017 in HCMC, and we couldn't be more excited.

Thank you to all the parents, family and friends who have sent these young people out the door so full of faith and so well prepared. We recognize the sacrifice involved. Their service will make the earth move. 

"O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!" Alma 29:1

And for the rest of the group - those who were not receiving new missionaries - Glad to have them all here in Ho Chi Minh City with us!

And our well-qualified zone leaders!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Tapestry of Life - YSA+ Conference 2017 Vietnam

Over 50 young people attended this year’s Young Single Adult Conference in Vietnam, coming either on Friday night or throughout the day on Saturday, August 25-26, 2017.  The bright orange conference t-shirts were a big hit and were proudly worn throughout the two-day event.

Many faced challenges of employment schedules or traveling long distances to the Thao Dien chapel, but in spite of the difficulties faced, the young people were excited to come and share the event with their friends.

The conference began on Friday evening with an opening address from Sister Pia Bejar, a guest speaker from Canada who is originally from the Philippines. She introduced the theme of the conference – The Tapestry of Life – and reminded the young people of their interwoven dependence upon faith, prayer, scripture study, temple and family history work, and church attendance.

Following her remarks was a dance workshop by senior missionaries Elder and Sister Coffey.  Some of the YSA’s were initially a little dubious about dancing together, but soon everyone was laughing and joining in on the fun, learning several country round dances and a line dance.

On Saturday morning, the YSA’s were blessed by a special message from Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy.  Elder Evans, a member of the Asia Area Presidency, spoke on how the seemingly small decisions we make in our lives can have enormous consequences throughout the years.  He shared the importance of making proper decisions regarding missionary service, marriage, education and career. After his remarks, he visited with a number of the YSA’s before leaving to catch his flight.  The YSA’s were very grateful for his presence and for his message.

Other events throughout the day included workshops on dating and eternal marriage, team building activities, and group games.  Sister Pia Bejar spoke again sharing her personal life story leading to faith in Jesus Christ and self reliance, and encouraged the young adults to cultivate their God-given talents to reach their full potential with their personal lives and their families.

Oncoming rain caused a cancellation of the outdoor service project, but the movie The Testaments was the backup plan. By the end of the film, many had tears in their eyes as they contemplated the love of their Savior.

The evening closed with the sharing of testimonies and heartfelt stories of growing faith. Many conference attendees, after hearing Elder Evan’s message, felt a strengthening of their faith and a desire to move forward and remain faithful.

Another young person shared that at first she didn’t think an education was important for her life, but after the conference messages she committed to better preparing for her future. Many bore testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

The blessings of young adults coming together for fellowship, fun and the building of faith can lead to lasting friendships and strengthening of testimony.  We are grateful for the opportunity of working with the YSA leaders who organized the conference. The Spirit was strong.

One of our very capable translators
Happiness that cannot hide!

Happiness that cannot hide!

The senior missionary sister from the Thao Dien branch took photos for the conference.

Testimony and faith that cannot be hid.

The interweaving of faith, friendship and fun.

Photo booth of heaven in a picture.

The creator of the photo booth backdrop.
Lots of rain created a small lake - we couldn't get to the service project site.

But they had fun anyway!

The YSA leaders of the three branches (plus one of their sisters) - great planners for the event.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Trip to Heaven - The Temple in Manila

It seemed like it was a long time coming. The anticipation was high as P. (age 8) and her family began their trip to the Manila temple from their home village of Châu Đốc, Vietnam. They were on their way to be sealed as a forever family.

A six hour bus ride brought the family into Ho Chi Minh City where they joined the rest of the group – 44 in all – who were making their way to Manila for the annual temple trip.

On July 17, members from the three branches in Ho Chi Minh City as well as the Virtual Branch from the outlying areas gathered together at the Tan Son Nhat chapel for a brief devotional before catching either the 1:00 am flight to Manila or a flight later that morning. 

A devotional started off the trip with the outpouring of the Spirit.

The group gathers for the 1:00 am flight.
We were assigned traveling buddies - Elder Coffey and I traveled with a delightful mother and her daughter.

Arriving at the temple in the middle of the bustling, crowded city of Manila is a little bit like finding heaven.  A lot like it, actually.

The tired but happy group gathered in the patron housing lobby to receive their room assignments.

Patron Housing at the Manila Temple - for those who travel a long distance to attend.

The weary group waits for their room assignments.

Catching up on sleep before heading over to the temple.

The temple provides housing for temple patrons who come to the temple from long distances.  Bunk beds line each room housing 8 people.  Some rooms are reserved for families so they can stay together.

Assigning out the bedding for each room.
The group arrived at the temple around 6 in the morning and after resting up a bit, began serving in the temple.

The Manila temple is an English speaking temple.  Many of those in our group spoke only Vietnamese, but several in the group were able to translate to help explain things. In spite of translation challenges, the universal language of the Spirit flowed and blessings followed. 

A particularly tender moment was when P.'s family was sealed - first her grandparents to each other, then her mother to her grandparents, then her parents to each other, and then the crowning moment when P. and her baby sister were brought in to also be sealed as a forever family.  I could not hold back the tears that swelled in my eyes at this sacred moment. 
Three generations of Vietnamese Saints

It was a very big day for them!
S. was another one who came to the temple (photo, right).  A widow for 7 years, she came to receive the sacred ordinance of being sealed to her husband for time and all eternity. Miracles unfolded as saints rallied around her to help her with the paperwork and translation in order to be able to perform the sealing. She has been a member of the church for 2 years and this has been a sacred highlight for her. 

The blessings continued day and night as members were baptized for their loved ones by proxy and as families were joined together by the power and authority of the priesthood that Heavenly Father has restored to the earth in these last days. 

Elder Coffey and I and others were given opportunities to assist in the temple - helping wherever they needed us. 

What a joy it is that we are blessed with temples throughout the world - bringing these eternal blessings to families on both sides of the veil. Our visit to the temple was four faith-filled days mingling with saints, feeling the outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord, and being reminded of the supernal and eternal binding power of the priesthood. Everything about the temple points us to Jesus Christ. It is His house.  We are grateful guests in His sacred work. 

"Temples are are more than stone and mortar. They are filled with faith and fasting. They are built of trials and testimonies. They are sanctified by sacrifice and service."  Thomas S. Monson