elder egbert versus the quang

i first met tay about 3 weeks ago.

tay is a less active member who really, really likes the missionaries.
but not really anyone else.  he moved from thailand to france 15 years
ago.  about 12 of those years he was baptized.  i guess at the
christmas party last year, one of the sisters in the ward made him
feel pretty bad and he hasn't come back to church since.  it's such a
bummer.

anyway, he dropped by the apartment one day when elder hurd and i were
getting ready.  we thought that he had something to tell us, but
really, he just wanted to say hi.  it was bizarre.  a few days after
the first encounter, he stopped by AGAIN just to give us his new phone
number.  all in all, he just really needs a friend.

but a few tay-free weeks passed by and both of us kind of forgot that
he hadn't come by for a while.  so we got lost in doing, you know...
missionary work.

in the strasbourg ward, there are a LOT of less active members.  i
mean, a lot... there is about a 15% activity rate here.  so a lot of
the work we have been doing lately has been trying to find
less/in-active members and trying to get them to come back to church.
however, the ward directory hasn't been updated for a super long time
and almost 2/3 of the addresses and numbers are wrong.  so elder hurd
and i have actually been taking the buses around the city, trying to
confirm the addresses on the list of members.

one night this week, we agreed to head up north to a little suburb
called hoenheim.  there was supposed to be two inactives living up
there, and we felt like it was worth a shot.  so we jumped on the tram
and rode it all the way to the end of the line.  we found the first
name on the repertoire:

vigouroux

classic french name.  we made our way to the correct address and
checked the sonnerie.

no vigouroux.  bummer.

so we checked the list again.  the next member was listed as "hoang the quang".

i had two ideas:  either that man's parents were FREAKIN awesome and
his name was really 'the quang', or it was a really awkward mistake.
we walked about a half mile further down a really dark street, but we
finally found the correct address.  we knocked and a really small
asian lady came to the door.

bingo.

"hi, is there a mr. hoang that lives here?"  pretty much, we asked
that in several different ways before she gave up and just started
speaking to us in english.  she really seemed exasperated by what we
were trying to demand of her.  but suddenly a light clicked on in her
head and she ran out of the entryway into the house, leaving us alone
on the porch...  the next few seconds were filled with a really,
really awkward silence.  but that silence was broken as a middle aged
thai man walked to the door.

"tay?"  elder hurd was shocked.  i mean, i was shocked too, but he was
even more shocked.

wellll.... it wasn't until that moment that i realized that hoang the
quang was actually "HOANG, Thé Quang".  and that in french, "thé" is
pronounced exactly like "tay".  whoops.

other than tay (or thé... it's just easier to write 'tay' on the
keyboard.) we met with several other less active people this week.
(ps. we got tay to come to church! mission accomplished)

sunday afternoon, we took a bus quite a ways from the middle of town
and then walked another 30-40 minutes through a couple of villages
(super pretty btw) to find sister lienhard.  luckily, she was actually
home and we got to meet with her, ask her why she hasn't come back to
church for a while, etc.  she was super nice and i'm hoping that some
things work out so she can come back to church.

we got to go to nancy this week for an activity for the youth.  it was
called "mtc nancy" lol.  it was super successful and i think it did a
lot of good for a lot of kids.  just before the train ride down, we
realized that the office couples had ordered the wrong tickets for us
and that we needed to buy our own tickets... which stinks because
trains here are super expensive.  but other than that, it was a really
good time.

at the nancy activity, all of the missionaries in our zone got to talk
to the stake president.  wow, he is a really awesome guy.  man, i'll
be the first to tell you that there are some pretty flippin awesome
members here.

anyway, he was talking about how to become better missionaries and
other things like that when someone flat out asked,

"how CAN we become better missionaries?  i mean, is there a secret or
what?"  president rodriguez looked at us and just said,

"2 nephi 5:27".  all of us hurried and grabbed our books of mormon to
try to get there and find the secret to be better missionaries.  i'll
tell you what is says:

"and it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness."

that's it.  that's the secret to being a better missionary?  well,
according to pres rodriguez, it's more than that.  it's the secret to
being a better person.  it's the secret to being a better member of
the church and a better father/son/mother/daughter.

he said, "if ever you can't heed to this scripture, get on your knees.
heavenly father knows you better even than you know yourself.  so he
knows what you need better than you do."

that hit me.  at first, when he said that, i just thought "oh, i wish
it were that easy.  just be happy all the time..."  the fact of the
matter is that alone, it's nearly impossible.  we all have a little
bit of the natural man inside of us which, as king benjamin says, is
"an enemy to god.. and always will be."  simply speaking, it is
impossible to overcome that influence without divine aide.

we need god on our side.  otherwise, we are "nothing" and our
"strength is weak (alma 26:12)" but with His help, we can do "anything
through Christ (philippians 4:13)".  quite literally, nothing, nothing
in this lifelong adventure, is impossible.

remember that.  there is nothing that we cannot do with the power of god.

-elder egbert

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