Neal Chan Returns From His Mission (July 2014 – June 2016)

Neal Chan Returns From His Mission (July 2014 – June 2016)

I am from the Choa Chu Kang Ward and served in the Philippines Urdaneta Mission. A temple was announced for the Philippines Urdaneta Mission on 2 Oct 2010. Currently, no groundbreaking date has been announced but the people there are looking forward to the temple.

The Urdaneta Mission is made up of most of the Province of Pangasinan on the northern central part of the island of Luzon. The word Pangasinan means ‘where the salt is made.’ People speak English, Tagalog, Ilokano and Pangasinan (the last two are dialects). The weather there is mostly hot all year round, with temperatures of 40°C in the summer. Pangasinan is famous for quite a few kinds of food. One of them is Bangus (milkfish) and they even have a festival for it every year! Another dish is Puto, a steamed rice cake that has different flavours like cheese, pineapple, yam etc. My personal favourite is Pinakbet, a dish made up of a variety of vegetables cooked in Bagoong (fermented fish sauce).

The mission was a place full of miracles for me. For me, one of them was the opportunity to learn directly from the Lord and to earnestly seek and receive His guidance every single day. As missionaries, we are required to follow the promptings of the Spirit.

I remember when I was in my first area. It was our fourth day, the area was new to us both and we had no idea where to go. We got on a jeepney (open air minivan, WWII style) and just relied on the Lord. I looked at my trainer and he gave me the same confused look. I remember begging God for some kind of guidance. Suddenly, my trainer called the driver to stop and told me to follow him. We got off and I followed as he navigated around the backstreets of that area. He made a few turns, many of which I knew we had never taken before. After a few minutes, we arrived at a house. We knocked and out came a nice lady that introduced herself as a member and invited us in. To cut a long story short, we found a less-active family - not because of our own efforts, but because God led my trainer to that family.

Another valuable lesson I learned was that “whom the Lord calls, He qualifies.” I remember looking up to many of the great leaders of the mission when I was new and just having so much respect for their spiritual strength and testimony.

It came as a surprise when I was extended a similar call early in my mission. It was the middle of my fourth transfer and I was ready to be a full-purpose missionary, having had both a trainer and follow-up trainer, and also doing much better with the language. I remember clearly what was said to me: “The Lord would like to extend a leadership assignment to you. Do you have the faith to accept this calling?”

That question pierced my soul. It was not questioning whether I was good enough but rather if I had enough faith to let God show me His powers. God knows each and every one of us. All we need to do is have faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and then we will “have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in [Him].”

My testimony has been strengthened as I reflect each day and see the hand of God in the details of my life and the lives of those around me.

I noticed that the formula to success is always the same. “Faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God…” I was preoccupied with learning the language when I entered the MTC and got really stressed when I could not grasp it fast enough. My MTC teacher aptly put it when he said something along the lines that “All God requires of us is faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to His glory. It does not mention anything about speaking a new language in that verse.” I then found that as I put my trust in earnestly teaching and testifying to those around me, even though I did not know the language, miracles happened.

I know that God lives and knows each of us by name. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that He atoned for our sins so that we can all go back to return to live in His presence someday. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet called of God to restore the Gospel in these latter days. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that we are led today by a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, who is God’s chosen mouthpiece on the face of this earth.  I love my mission and would never trade it for any other experience in this world. I bear witness of all these things.