Heaven is Pho Real


Monday, August 21, 2017


That was hands down the greatest thing that happened this past week. Tinh has waited so long to be baptized and the day ended up being so special and wonderful. Chi Chau and I got to the church early to help her change clothes and what not. We gave her a present and I think she was so full of joy that she was about to explode. I love chi Tinh so much - she is the cutest person I have ever met, and she has such a strong testimony of Christ and the church.

So what else happened this week besides the most wonderful baptism of all time?

Our roommate, chi Thuy Anh, brought a durian home.

While I was getting ready one day, trying not to breath too much because the smell of durian is intoxicating, I came up with a pretty good analogy for it. 

Durian is a lot like sins. Sometimes we deliberately bring a durian into our home - we go out an buy it ourselves - and sometimes we accidentally bring a durian into our home against our original intentions - someone gives us a durian when contacting at an outside market. It doesn't matter what happens, but now all of the sudden you have a durian in your home.

And what's wrong with durian? From first glance, there's nothing wrong with it. It's just a fruit. But then as time goes on, it starts to smell. And let me tell you from first hand experience, when it smells, it SMELLS. It takes over everything else in your whole house and eventually you can't focus on anything else because it smells so bad. 

Some people can battle through the smell - they just put up with it and hope that everything will fix itself. But, again, let me tell you from first hand experience, the smell will not fix itself. Every day it just gets worse and worse and then you really start to regret your decision to bring the durian into your house.

So what can you do? Here's what you do: put the durian in a plastic bag, stick it in the garbage, and then throw the garbage out in the main dumpster. And decide to never, ever, EVER, bring a durian into your home again.

Let's relate this to sins: Sometimes we diliberately sin - we do something that we know wasn't right but at the moment we just didn't care or got carried away. And sometimes, we sin on accident - we had no intention of doing it, it just happened. But whatever happens, we've sinned. We've done something that we knew wasn't the best thing to do, but it's happened, and you can't go back and change it.

So what's wrong with that? From first glance, it was just a mistake. No one really got hurt, no one needs to know. It's just a sin. But then as time goes on, it starts to take its toll on us. We start feeling guilty, self-conscious, like all of the sudden everyone knows about what we did and they're going to judge us. Or maybe it has a different effect - we start feeling unworthy, like what we did was the worst thing in the world and there's no coming back from it.

Sometimes we'll try to battle through these sins without having to repent - we just put up with it and hope that everything will fix itself. "It'll go away if you don't pay attention to it". But every day we'll just feel worse and worse and then we really start to regret our decision.

So what can we do? Here's what we do: repent. Pray to God and ask for His forgiveness, and just as important, ask for His help. Heavenly Father wants us to become like Him, and He doesn't have any sins. We're not perfect, so of course we're going to mess up every once in a while. We'll say we won't do things any more but then life happens and we've messed up again. Heavenly Father knows that will happen. However, His expectations of us don't change. And because His expectations don't change, He will be there to help us. How unfair would it be if your chemistry teacher told you that there would be a huge test at the end of the year and that everyone is expected to pass, but then never showed up to class to actually teach anything? Very unfair. Heavenly Father is not unfair - He will guide us every step of the way, give us the strength to change so that we can meet His expectations. He loves us for more than just who we are - He loves us for who we are trying to become, and He loves us for just trying.

My advice for this week/forever? Put that sin in a plastic bag, throw it in the garbage, and then throw the garbage out into the main dumpster. Then rely on Heavenly Father to help you do better next time. Also, never buy durian.

Of course this analogy doesn't work if you actually LIKE durian. So if you do, please disregard this email.

Thanks to everyone for the emails and pictures and everything! 
How to transport fresh veggies.

15 tháng rồi !!!!!!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Thời gian trôi qua thật nhanh. Con không thích.

This past week I hit my 15th month mark! Crazy.

I've been reading a lot from the book "Jesus the Christ" (which is an AMAZING book!!! I encourage everyone to read it. Just get past the first few chapters or so because those aren't super interesting but after that it gets AWESOME). The other day I read through a chapter that I really loved, which talked a lot about the character of Christ: "Gentle He was, and patient under all affliction, merciful and long-suffering in dealing with contrite sinners, yet stern and inflexible in the presence of hypocrisy, and unsparing in His denunciation of evil-doers." Christ is the most loving, merciful, person to ever walk the earth. But that doesn't mean that He tolerated sins and bad behavior. Christ will always forgive us of our sins if we truly repent, which requires action on our part. He loves us despite the things we do wrong, but He will always expect us to try to do better. And because He expects that of us, He's not going to leave us hanging to figure it out on our own. He will always be there every step of the way, to guide and to encourage. 

And that's just so cool.

This past week was awesome. We had 5 of our investigators come to church, which is awesome, we got a new investigator, which is awesome, and then our other investigator, Van, accepted baptism, which is awesome. 

Monday & Tuesday, chi Chau and I got to go tour some hospitals with Dr. Sellers and his wife (from Hong Kong). It was super fun to go and see all the facilities in the hospitals here in Vietnam. And now I know which hospital has the best/most powerful MRI scan. Valuable information.

The quote for this week would be from my FAVORITE PRIMARY KID EVER, em Nam, 11 years old: "Ồ cảm ơn chị cả, em rất thích kẹo sô cô la!!" Chi Chau and I gave Nam and his sister Suzi hershey kisses the other day, and it TOTALLY made his day. It was so cute to see how happy he got after getting 2 hershey kisses. I will now be asking my mother to send me all the american candy in the world so that I can hand it out to the kids here. 

Thanks for all the updates, pictures, emails!

A typical bike ride in Saigon...Who can find my companion? 


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sorry, not much time to email today and so here's just a picture of my favorite member, Thao Ly, getting her mission call to VIETNAM HANOI MISSION yayyyy!!
I don't have a ton of time today because chi Chau and I are going to hang out with Dr. Sellers and his wife from Hong Kong.  He's the person in charge of Operation Smiles.  We will be visiting 4 hospitals starting today and continuing on this week.

Contacting with chopsticks

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My new companion, chi Chau, and I have served together now for.. 4 days. And we've already experienced the joy of using our God-given personalities in missionary work. Here's the story:

Saturday night we needed to go buy bread for a member and eat dinner, so we decided to go eat at the food court of a grocery store. I bought some American-looking pasta, and chi Chau bought Bun Thit Nuong but without the fish sauce. So just based off our food choices, you could tell we were foreigners (or maybe you could tell we were foreigners based off the fact that we're 2 feet taller than everyone). We bought our food and tried to find a place to sit. I made us take the first table we could find, because I didn't want to wait any longer to start eating. So we ended up sitting down at a table with one other woman, right next to the trash cans. It wasn't the best place to eat, but it would do. We start eating and just talking about our two next lessons that night - I'm using a fork and chi Chau is using a pair of chopsticks. All of the sudden, the woman sitting next to us says, "Miss, that wrong. That not right." and starts pointing at chi Chau. TURNS OUT chi Chau has been eating her noodles with one of the chopsticks UPSIDE DOWN! It was absolutely hilarious and looked so weird. But, because that sweet lady was kind enough to help chi Chau out, we were able to start a conversation with her and may possibly be meeting her this weekend to teach her the first lesson!!

So, lesson learned. Don't hide who you are, because Heavenly Father will use your personality and your gifts to help other people and introduce them to the gospel. If chi Chau had used her chopsticks properly, we may never have even started talking to that woman! While on the mission, I've heard a lot of things like, "Let God change you." That is entirely true - we should let God change things about us to help us become better people. But, we shouldn't let go of the things that make us who we are. There are some personality traits that we have been blessed with, things that God has blessed us with, to make us unique and allow us to help other people. While we want to change certain aspects of our lives to improve, we should always cling to the special gifts God has given us. It could be things like cracking jokes, talking a lot, singing all the time, not paying attention when eating and using chopsticks the wrong way. God always blesses us with little things, little habits, that make us unique. If we use those gifts, we will be able to help people in all sorts of ways.

Other than this funny contacting experience, we had a pretty good week! Our investigators are doing well for the most part, which is a huge blessing. The weather has been a little bit cooler, as in no longer 10000 degrees celsius. The food, as always, is the best.

I hope everyone has a good week!

These pictures have nothing to do with the week, but I didn't take any new photos.

Thuyên Chuyển

Monday, July 24, 2017

Unfortunately, chi Tam and I did not survive the transfer call. We will be getting split up and she is off to Thao Dien :( I'll be staying in Tan Son Nhat with my new companion, chi Chau! Here we go, the two tallest sisters in the mission serving together. Chi Chau's words about this: "We can just intimidate them into baptism". Cũng được.

This week I decided to read the Book of Mormon again in English. For the past 6 months or so, I've been reading the Book of Mormon in Vietnamese during personal study,  but this past week I decided to switch things up and go back to English for a time to see if anything new pops out that I didn't see before. I was just reading in the very first few chapters of 1 Nephi, and I came across the verse that I love, but this time it had a new meaning:

1 Nephi 1:20 -"And when the Jews heard these things they were
angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they
had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life,
that they might take it away.  But behold, I, Nephi, will show
unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those
whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty
even unto the power of deliverance."

I've always liked this verse because I love to think about the tender mercies that the Lord gives us. He always blesses us in such small ways just to make our day better. I've loved this verse because it helps me to remember that when we have faith and follow Him, He will give us tons of tender mercies throughout our lives. This time however, when I read this verse, I started thinking about what Nephi was saying. Nephi was reflecting on the tender mercy that had been given to his family that his father Lehi, was not harmed or killed by these people that didn't like what he was saying, even though it was the truth. That is DEFINITELY not a tender mercy - that is a miracle! It is such a miracle that Lehi and their family left Jerusalem unharmed. So what does this mean to us now? For me, when I reread this verse, I realized that sometimes, and probably more often than not, those little tender mercies we receive are actually miracles. They aren't just tiny little blessing that Heavenly Father is giving us to get through the day, they are full-on miracles that He is giving us to let us know that He is real, He is there, and He loves us. Our responsibility now is to change our mindset and to view the things that He gives us as the great miracles that they are.

This week was a good week. It was a hard week, but I learned a lot. Thanks for all the emails and pictures and updates! Have a good week!

This helmet has seen better days!

Riding the Saigon bridge again...

A lizard that I found in my room

Một năm đã trôi qua

Monday, July 17, 2017

This past week marked my ONE YEAR MARK IN VIETNAM!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow. I read over my first journal entry for my first day in Vietnam:
"Today I killed my first cockroach. Expecting many more to come. So today I was given my first area and companions/trainers! Hanoi, Chi Man Nghi, and Chi Ha. I'm glad I get to stay in Hanoi - I really didn't want to get on another plan after 30 hours of traveling. So here's how the day went: We spent the night at Elder and Sister Van Wagenen's home and then woke up and had a BOMB breakfast. We then went to the mission office to go through orientation. I had my first interview with President Hassell - sometimes I forget that he's a mission president because of how chill he is. After the orientation, we all walked to a restaurant for lunch. I don't really know what I ate. One dish was like banana curry or something - it was bright green. I was sweating the whole time. It's so hot outside and then we always eat hot food. The 2 don't mix. Tonight during our planning session I had to CALL SOMEONE. I had to ask if a member could help in a lesson and it freaked me out but I did it and she seemed to understand me. The swelling in my feet has gone down a little. This is good."

Well, needless to say, a LOT has changed since my first day here, July 14th, 2016! Basically everything is different now except for the fact that I still sweat all the time and I still don't really know the kind of food that I get fed. Serving here in Vietnam has been, hands down, the hardest thing I've ever done but it's also been the most rewarding. The one thing that has always seemed to help me get through the trials arise is just remembering who it is that I need to put first - and the answer to that is always God. Whenever hard things come up, we just need to remember to put God first, and then it will be clear what kind of sacrifices we need to make and what things we need to do to get back on track.

The quote for this week comes with a wonderful, wonderful story. Every Tuesday, my companion and I will go help out at our investigator's restaurant. After the busy lunch shift is over, we normally will sit down with our investigator, eat lunch, and talk with her. So this past week as we sat down to eat, our investigator asked us, (here's the quote of the week), "Hai em có thích trứng gà không?" which translates to "Do you like eggs?" (chicken eggs, to be more specific). Who doesn't like eggs, right? So we replied, " Dạ có, thích nhiều!" TURNS OUT WE MISS HEARD HER becuase the next thing we know she brings out a big plate full of CHICKEN FEET. She had said "chân gà" and not "trứng gà". Oh man. Lunch that day was very exciting. 

Thanks to everyone once again for the emails and pictures and updates!! Happy late birthday to JANICE MAN NGHI LYNGUYEN aka CHI MAN NGHI and happy early birthday to Anna Hu :)))

Người Châu Phi

Monday, July 10, 2017

This past Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, my companion and I went up to Hanoi for MLC and exchanges! Tuesday night I got to go visit one of my FAVORITE families, Cô Tâm, and the whole time Cô Tâm couldn't get over how much tanner I've gotten since being in Sài Gòn. She just kept saying, "Kim Thư là người Châu Phi!!" which translates to "Kim Thư is black!" 

Reunited with Chi Tam in Hanoi


This past week we had 2 great lessons with our new investigators Cô Hương and her daughter Chị Thanh. They have been coming to church on their own for about 2 months now, but EVERYONE thought Cô Hương was member! Part of that may be because she told us all that she was a member already.. We always new that hẻr daughter, Thanh, wasn't a member, but everytime we asked if Thanh wanted to meet with us to take discussions she always said no! Then one day, out of the blue, we receive a phone call from President Hassell who said that Co Huong's brother in California wants them to start learning about the gospel (he's the branch president over there). Next thing you know, we're meeting with them and learning the real story that Co Huong IS NOT A MEMBER and chi Thanh ACTUALLY WILL MEET WITH US! Everyone at church was so surprised to find out that Co Huong actually hadn't been baptized yet. But she's adorable. She paid her tithing yesterday and didn't know what they used tithing for until we explained it to her.

Long story short, make sure that you deeply interview everyone in your branch/ward/stake because there is a chance that someone actually isn't a member.

Just last night, my companion and I had a lesson with another investigator, Nhu, and I had a huge epiphany of how great the Lord's timing is. Nhu has been coming to English class for quite a while, and most of the time will stay to hear the spiritual thoughts. However, my companion and I have never had time to talk to her about the gospel because we've been focusing on other people after english class. Well, just two weeks ago she approached the elders with one of her friends and asked to meet with them to learn more about the differences between our church and the catholic church (she's catholic). The elders invited us to come to the lesson as well, and now she's one of our investigators! Just last night after our lesson, she told us that she was going to start learning Japanese and doesn't know if she'll have time to come to English class on Wednesdays anymore. I am SO SO SO THANKFUL that, with the help of the Lord's timing, we were able to start meeting with her before that happened! If she had stopped coming to English class 2 weeks earlier, then we would never have had the chance to teach her about the gospel. The Lord really does have a certain schedule for everything, and everything will occur according to His timing.

The quote for this week comes from my lovely companion, "Chúng ta phải làm sức khỏe cho thế gian" (We need to make health for the world). She was trying to say something along the lines of "Don't pollute the earth" and this is the translation that we got! It's probably better than what I could do.

Thanks for all the emails, pictures, updates, everything! 

Your favorite người châu phi
Navigating the streets of Saigon
Visiting Hanoi

Tan Son Nhat  (TSN) Branch talent show

Heaven is Pho Real.
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