- The Washington Times - Monday, May 22, 2000

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by Charles Cannon at McLean First Ward, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Next month, it will be 31 years since my mother passed away. In the refining fire of her prolonged illness, she chose a Scripture for me: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding." Today, I will focus on the phrase, "Lean not unto thine own understanding."
In the Old Testament, the Lord struggles with the house of Israel. Ezekiel tells us the Lord said, "I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit in them, and I will take the stony heart out." … Elder Neal Maxwell, speaking at our General Conference, has explained that all of us face the struggle to put off "the natural man" and let the Savior change our lives.
He said, "Just as Jesus warned that some evil spirits would come out only with 'prayer and fasting,' the natural man does not come off without difficulty either." We read in the Prophet Mosiah [3:19], "The natural man is the enemy of God, and has been from the fall of Adam [and remains so] unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit [to] become a saint, through the atonement of Christ." …
Our prophet [church President Gordon B. Hinkley] reminds us that we must labor for the peace that comes only as we have faith in the Prince of Peace. Let us not, in our supposed sophistication and pride, be so arrogant that we no longer feel dependence on Him… .
I would like to share the experience of a friend who learned to trust in the Lord. Cong Ton Nu Tuong-Vy was born in 1923 in Hue, the imperial capital of Vietnam. Her father was prime minister to the last emperor, Bao Dai, who served until 1945. She lived in the palace and was trained in the Confucian tradition. The war broke apart her family, and in 1967 she was running a business in Saigon when branch leader Bob Lewis asked her to help translate a pamphlet, the testimony of Joseph Smith… . She stayed up all night, she recounts. "As I read, something strange happened to me. It was as if someone unseen was helping me to understand." …
In the course of other translations, she became interested in the church, and became a baptized member of the Saigon branch. I first met Sister Vy in 1970 when I was in Vietnam, and soon after she received a call to translate the Book of Mormon. Running her business in a busy city, swelled with refugees, she did not know how she would have the tranquility to do this task… .
There were Scripture passages she did not understand, but she had a cousin who was a Catholic priest and Scripture scholar who helped her. At night she had dreams that gave her answers. She said, "If you do not believe that a young man like Joseph Smith, uneducated as he was, can translate the book of Mormon, then consider my experience. I don't know how I was able to translate that book, but Heavenly Father helped me." It took her two years… .
She was offered the first seat on a plane leaving Vietnam in April of 1975, but stayed. Her family was arrested and her brothers imprisoned. She tried many times over the next five years to escape, the last time in 1981, and in one attempt had to bury all her books and translations in the sand… . She shaved her head and lived in a cave, taking on the appearance of a Buddhist nun… .
Sister Vy was allowed to emigrate in 1987, and in 1988 at General Conference in Salt Lake City received her temple endowments, and for the first time saw her published Book of Mormon. Most of us will not be tested in our trust in the Lord as Sister Vy was. But we may need rescue from loneliness, heartache, despair, disillusionment; from the consequences of innocent mistakes and blatant sins. Sister Sheri Dew, a Relief Society leader, said at General Conference: "The Savior isn't our last chance. He is our only chance."


Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Michael J. Kelley at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in the District of Columbia.

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