Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Things get weirder and weirder by the week.

And yet another adventurous week.
This week's great story happened on Saturday while riding back from a part-member families home. Sister Van and I were visiting a nonmember who just had a baby about a week ago and the Elders, Anh Ca Minh and Anh Ca Van were there too visiting her husband who is a member. It was about 6:30 and we had to leave to go to District Conference at the church. I was hoping that I could just follow behind the Elders so that they could lead the way, but I ended up getting stuck behind a bunch of motos so we lost them in the crowd. About 10 minutes later while getting ready to go up the treacherous Saigon bridge I saw a huge group of people stopped in the street. There was probably about 30 people off their motorcycles standing around in a circle. I figured it was an accident so I tried to look away in fear that I would see something awful, but as I took a quick glance I saw Elder Van pushing his way out of the circle, and Elder Minh getting up off the ground. Yeah, the Elder's were in an accident. As Chi Van and I pulled up and got through the crowd of people there was a man lying on the ground with people trying to help him. He was unconscious and there was tons of blood everywhere. To be honest, I thought I was looking at a dead man. Elder Minh wasn't bleeding or anything, but he was unable to walk very well. After quite a while the man started moving a bit so they put him in a taxi to take him to the hospital. Who needs an ambulance when you can just throw a dying man into the back of a taxi?
So before I go on, don't worry everything is okay. That was extremely scary, but everyone is fine!
Here's the interesting part though. While standing on the street someone tapped on my shoulder and I turned around to see a familiar face. I didn't know what her name was, but I knew that I knew her and figured she was a member. She apparently has some medical training to she went to help Elder Minh. She assured me everything would be okay, then she left. While Chi Van and I were riding to the church for conference Chi Van asked me what the name of that lady was. I told her I didn't know what her name was but that I figured she was a member. Come to find out she's not a member, she's one of our students from English class. While in conference she called us and told us she would bring some medicine to the church for Elder Minh. Once she got to the church we invited her to stay at the conference and she accepted!
Haha. So there's the silver lining of the story! Elder Minh had to get into an awful accident, but because of that we got a non-member to attend a church meeting with us. I always knew the Lord worked in mysterious ways, but things are just getting odd.
As for other news:
-We have an investigator scheduled for baptism this Sunday! She's gold! We taught her about tithing yesterday (which is always a scary one to teach) and she said she had already read the pamphlet about it while at English class and she understands it's importance! Saaaahweeet!
-Yesterday we biked for an hour to get to a members home...my butt still hurts because of that. And I saw a guy dead on the side of the street on the way there.
That's it for this week. I'm loving it here! Also, no one ever updated me on the status of my goldfish Joey. If he's dead, just tell me. I'd like to know now instead of getting home expecting to see him and he's gone. Thanks a heap.
-Sister Egelund

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sixteen Months to Change a Country

I made it a whole week in Vietnam! Schyaaaa!
So I want to share an experience I had on Thursday evening. Chi Van and I went to a members family's house out in district 9, about a 30 minute bus ride away from our house. We got to their house about 5 o'clock and taught them about being grateful for our blessings. They're a really sweet family with the most adorable son who sang tons of songs for us. The husband has to work a lot though because they're having a lot of financial troubles and they cannot make it to church on Sundays. I don't know what I can do to help them. The troubles that these people face are so difficult, but every trial can be solved through The Lord. Every. Single. Problem. I hope that they understand that. I hope that everyone understands that. Heavenly Father knows the trials we each face and through Jesus Christ things are good. I've realized that that's the beauty of the gospel. Hope. Hope that things will always work out. Hope that there is a reason for everything that happens to us - both good and bad. Hope that through our obedience we can someday be perfect.
After teaching that family we went to their neighbors house for dinner but I had not been informed we were doing that. It was past 6 o'clock by that time, but I had to teach English class at 7:00. So let's do some math: We have to eat dinner which will take at least 30 + minutes because Vietnamese people can eat for eternity. Plus, the bus ride back takes at least 30 minutes. I'm not a math magician, but I know that that means we would be late for English class. And we did end up being late. After leaving dinner we tried to catch the bus but none of them would stop for us. Then the ride took longer than expected, and once we got off the bus Chi Van and the member that came with us had no idea where we were so we spent another 30 minutes walking along the side of the highway. To say I was frustrated would be a bit of an understatement.
We walked along the curb and my companion and the member were about 10 feet in front of me talking with one another. It was dark, loud and I was really frustrated. And I just started bawling while going down the street. The weird thing about these missions is you have no idea when things are going to get hard. At home you have some idea of when things are going to be difficult whether it be a test coming up or a busy day at work. But on a mission you never know how things are going to play out. I did not think that I was going to feel as awful as I did at that time, but the sadness just hit me like a brick wall. I just felt lost and wanted to go home.
The only way I know how to fix a problem is to pray, so that's what I did. I continued walking and prayed aloud that The Lord would help me with all of this. After sobbing and feeling helpless for about ten minutes, I was reminded of a memory of being about ten years old and my dad saying that I would probably serve my mission in Vietnam. My entire life there has been the idea that I will serve my mission here, and now I am. Heavenly Father has always wanted me to serve here - He's not going to let me fail! I cannot even describe how amazing it felt to have that realization! The Lord wants me to be here. He wants me to be doing his work. I am a pioneer for the church in Vietnam and I cannot mess this up. I have sixteen months to change a country! That's what's been keeping me going this week - I have 16 months. 16 months to change a country.
Really long story short, I understand my purpose. A member recently told me that Elder Bednar was in Vietnam two years ago and promised the people they would have a temple within the next twenty years. I know that seems like a really long time, but it's honestly not. Right now I cannot even call myself a missionary here or even share a scripture with someone outside of a members home or the church. So to think that within the next twenty years these people will have their very own temple is amazing!
I love it here. I'll be honest though, it's difficult and I really miss home. But I only have 16 months to change a country.
I hope you all are doing well at home and know that I love you. I miss you all a lot, but I will see you in a short time. Don't forget to pray and read the Book of Mormon daily. It's the best way to be happy.
With a heap load of love,
Sister Egelund

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Currently Listening To Miley Cyrus Blasting In An Internet Cafe While Writing This...

P-day two days in a row! It's a transfer miracle!

My trainer went from Vietnam to Cambodia yesterday and she didn't get a p-day, so we're doing it today. This morning we took a seven hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to Saigon. The bus was air conditioned so I'm not mad. Seriously, I could be having the absolute worst day and the second you put me in air conditioning I'll be happy. Haha
Our house is SO nice! It is probably the nicest house I have ever been in here! I have a California queen bed all to myself. Haha Vietnam is already being the bomb.com
So here's are some really interesting things about the work here:
I am the second Sister with an American last name to ever serve in Vietnam! The first Sister, Sister Stevens, lives in my house. And this is the first time there have been two Sister missionary companionship's in Vietnam. The work is going forward here and it's moving forward quickly! Everyone keeps telling me that I'm a pioneer for the work in Vietnam. In the words of Marty Mcfly, "This is heavy." Being a pioneer of the Gospel for Vietnamese people runs in the family though. Dad started the Vietnamese branch in Georgia, mom was the first member in her family to be baptized, just less than two years ago the Vietnamese cousins joined the church, and now here I am serving a full-time mission! I love this work, I love it a lot!
Spreading the word is difficult though. The LDS church is currently not a recognized church in Vietnam so we're not allowed to proselyte or even wear our name tags. We cannot start conversations with people, and if they ask what we're doing here we can only say that we teach English classes. Somehow it all works out though and the branch I am serving in has about 100 members attend each week.
Not wearing a name tag has been very difficult though. You know how you hear the stories of missionaries not being able to take off their tags once they're released from being a missionary because they wore it for so long? Not putting on my tag this morning was so hard! Whenever people ask me what my name is I just point at my tag where it has my name and the name of Jesus Christ. It's such an odd feeling to not have that name over my heart. 
I am so grateful for this call to serve! I love being a missionary and serving the Lord and my favorite people on earth! I miss you all and hope you're all CTR'ing it up back home!
Sister Egghead

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can't help falling...on the ground

As you all know I am currently in Cambodia. And boy oh boy do I have some stories to share!
So Tuesday we left the MTC to go to the airport. Of course all the Viet's sat in the back of the bus. Anyone who has ever been in the sixth grade knows that only cool kids sit there. After waving goodbye to the MTC we drove for about fifteen minutes and then stopped in the middle of no where. I thought they were going to kill us. In reality they were just dropping us off at the Trax station so we could ride public transportation to the airport. Well that was an adventure and a half. Three huge bags and one not-tiny-anymore Asian isn't the best combination. (My trainer told me I look skinnier in my photo President Moon has at the mission office...) After about three hours of chaos we finally got to the airport.
Our flight was intended to leave at 6:10 in the evening, meaning that we were to board around 5:40. Well, around 5:45 I'm sitting at the gate wondering why we have yet to board. Come to find out our flight had been delayed until 9 o'clock. And if we were to wait to board we would miss our connecting flight to Hong Kong by twenty minutes. Poor Sister Davis was our travel leader and was responsible for contacting airlines and figuring everything out. At one point she was told that we would not be able to get to Cambodia for at least a week. After hours of confusion the missionary travel office had a flight for us the following morning. They didn't want us to sleep at the airport though so we had to go back to the MTC for the night. Oh joy, back to Provo! We got back around 10:30 and slept for TWO HOURS in unmade beds then left the MTC again at 2:00 in the morning. Hashtag exhaustion.
I tried to figure out what the blessing of leaving a day late was...AND FIGURED IT OUT AT THE LA AIRPORT!
There was this really old man we saw while going through security. He was about 70 and dressed like a total hoodrat. The airport security had to stop him because he had 12 oz of pepper spray in his bag and a toy gun. He didn't see any problem with that though. Haha So, as we were sitting at the gate he sat between Elder Pham and Elder Tran and started talking with them. I left for about an hour to go eat and be an explorer and when I got back Elder Pham and Elder Tran were teaching him about the Restoration and commandments! The best part is, he was already living every commandment they taught him! So his name is Ralph and he is hilarious! He kept telling us that "He never heard any of these things before from Mormon's, he just knew that they were a good way to live." On the airplane Elder Pham sat next to him and when the flight attendant was handing out food he said, "She's really nice. She should be a Mormon too.'' Haha Oh good ol' Ralph! He wants to be friends with Elder Pham in two years so that will be sweet.
We finally got to CamBam around 11:00 at night. President and Sister Moon met us along with the assistants. We spent the night at the mission home and had meetings all of the next day. Here's the news you have all been waiting for:
My first area I will be serving in is HO CHI MIN CITY!!!  Booyaa! I've spent the past few days in Cambodia waiting for my visa but either this evening or tomorrow I go to Vietnam! For now Sister Litchfield and her trainer Sister Hays are my companions. Elder Tran is going to be in Ho Chi Min too and Elder Pham is going to Hanoi. Sister Litchfield has to stay in Cambodia for now because she is not Vietnamese and cannot go to Vietnam, but fingers crossed that Vietnam will be opened to all missionaries soon. Everyone, please pray for more missions to open! Everyone needs to hear of this glad message! ASAP
Okay, so here's some of what's been happening here in Cambodia:
As many of you know, my biggest fear of being in the field is biking. Everyone told me that once I got here I wouldn't be scared anymore. False. On Saturday I was hit my a moto, and on Sunday my skirt got caught in the wheel of my bike. I could feel it getting twisted and dragging me back. Once I fell onto the ground I sat up and missed having my head crushed by a huge garbage truck by about a foot. Remind me in 16 months to show you all of my battle wounds! I was told angels would be round about me if I'm obedient so I'm banking on that. I think they just tell missionaries that so they'll be good, but I'm not going to run the risk of it just being a hoax. Obedience has never sounded so rewarding!
On to members and investigators:
Honestly, the church is not extremely strong here. There are many members that go inactive soon after baptism so our main focus is meeting and strengthening less active members. There is a woman named Chi Kim that we went and visited on Saturday. She recently broke the word of wisdom when she was invited to go drinking with friends. She knew that it was wrong but didn't want to be impolite and not go. Chi Kim lives on the river in a boat. House boat woowoo! Not even close. The living area on the boats is the size of my bed back home and they have multiple people living on these boats. Chi Kim's boat sunk though so now she's living in this cement room in an alley. We read from the Book of Mormon with her and she shared with us that she doesn't want to follow Satan but it's really hard because there are so many bad people that influence her. We invited her to go to church on Sunday but she didn't make it because she had to move houses. Wanna know something awesome?! Her husband who is not a member has stopped smoking and buying cigarettes all together! I kind of wish I could stay in Cambodia so I could see how Chi Kim progresses. She's in good hands with Sister Litchfield though!
Then that night we went to meet with a man named Ong Hai. He was given a Book of Mormon a couple weeks ago by the Khmer missionaries (He likes to switch between speaking Khmer and Viet but you never know what language you're going to get when you see him). So in morning planning we expected that when we went to see him that he would say that he had not been reading, but when we pulled up to his "business" he was reading from the Book of Mormon!! First, let me describe his business. The word "business" and "home" are open to a lot of interpretation here. His business is actually a tarp draped across a cement wall and a rusty bicycle. Him and his wife sit underneath it all day and fill up bike tires with air. So we rode up on our bikes and saw that he was reading! So awesome. We don't make appointments to meet with people here because they'll usually just avoid us if they know we're coming. So we knew that he wasn't bluffing about reading just to please us. Ong Hai has actually read all the way to Mosiah 10! He told us all about the Lamanites, Jacob, Nephi and Lehi. He has a little trouble differentiating between Mosiah and Moses, but we'll work on that. Sister Hays invited him to go to church but he said he couldn't because he has a responsibility at another church. Sister Litchfield is awesome though and quickly said that we would give him a responsibility at our church! Haha, like President Hinckley says, all new members of the church need a calling!
There are a million more things that I could write, but I'm out of time. There's is no doubt that I'm going to be that returned missionary who tells "When I was on my mission" stories. These things are just too good not to share!
I hope things are going well for everyone back home! The church is still true! The work is going forward! I love you all!
-Sister Egelund
P.S. Peggy I met on the airplane, if you see this I hope you're having tons of fun in North Carolina, Florida or the mountains! :)

 Some of the original Viet district from the MTC reunited at Branch 6 in Cambodia. So good to kick it old school here in CamBam!
 This is everyone from the group going to Cambodia! Haha The travel pillows were a 10.
Everyone played a part in teaching Ralph.
At the MTC there are tons of pictures of missionaries with investigators. I definitely think this is worthy of the MTC walls. Someone try to do something about that for us.

Monday, November 4, 2013

"I'm leaving never to come back again." - Jesse McCartney

Let me give you a quick little recap of the MTC. 
Well, as you all know it was Halloween was on Thursday! We aren't allowed to dress up, but all the sisters in the zone chose different Disney princesses to be and we wore outfits with similar colors. I was Princess Jasmine of course! It was a life long dream of mine to be Princess Jasmine at Disneyland, but a couple years ago when dad and I went to Disneyland for New Years I met Princess Jasmine and she was mean so I discontinued that goal. It's whatevs. A part of me still aspires to be Princess Jasmine, but her outfit isn't very modest either, so I guess I will come up with some other goals. 
On Friday we had in-field orientation. I learned SO MUCH but it took 10 hours! They would have all the departing missionaries in this big room and we would have a big group session for about an hour. I really felt like I was at a self help seminar, but with less dancing. Then we had breakout sessions that had a theme like pioneers, or pirate ships. That was weird too. They kept comparing it to being at Disneyland because it was so exciting...I mostly wanted to PMITF the entire time. For those that are unfamiliar with my acronym PMITF it stands for punch myself in that face.
Saturday was mundane as far as I can remember. 
Sunday was like meeting/devotional overkill. For two hours in the morning we had mission conference. All mission conference is all the missionaries in the MTC getting together and the MTC presidency speaks to us. 
Awkward story about the MTC presidency: President Hacking and his wife Sister Hacking are the first counselors in the presidency. They came to our sacrament meeting a couple weeks ago when we got the fourth counselor, and following the meeting I told Sister Hacking I wanted to be like her someday. I mean, she's such a sweet woman and she's a wonderful example to Sister missionaries! She looked me in the eye and grabbed my arm and said "Don't ever try to be like me." You're probably thinking that she was just saying that to tell me to be myself. It was not like that at all. It was really scary and I didn't know what to say after that so I just hugged her and walked away. I still feel uncomfortable when I see her in the cafeteria now. 
On Sunday afternoon we had Sacrament meeting and it was saa-weeet! All of the missionaries in the zone leaving for the field this week (31 missionaries to be exact) sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" in their language. The Laotian Elders began by singing the first verse, then the Viet's sang, then the Hmongs and then the Cambodians, then we all sang the last verse in English with the congregation. It was absolutely amazing to be able to sing with all the people that have been my best friends these past two months! I love these people so darn much! 
Another story: 
On Wednesday at the temple Sister Litchfield and I did a session before everyone else in the zone. While we were sitting in the Celestial room many of the missionaries from the zone walked in all dressed in white. We all just sat there for a while just taking in the beauty of the temple. For many of us it was the last opportunity to go to the temple for the next couple years. After being in there for a while just smiling and reflecting upon the last couple months, we all stood up and shook hands. HOLY EMOTIONS EVERYWHERE! For just a moment time stood still. I was in the temple surrounded by numerous people that I love. I genuinely love the missionaries that I spent the last two months with. We really are like a family, or a small gang. There are days that we cannot get along and we all want to kill each other, and there are days that we love each other so much that in the words of Sister Thain "I would die for any of them." I always thought people that loved their zones were noobs and squares, but zones are a huge blessing. I am going to miss these people, but I am so proud of all of them for working so hard and going out to foreign places to serve The Lord! Okay, my mushy love for my zone is done now.
After Sacrament meeting was another meeting with the branch presidency where they basically told us not to be idiots and told us not to get fat. They're so nice...
Then we had to walk to the temple...in the snow. It had been snowing since that morning and someone even said in devotional "thank you for the snow". That was a little weird. At least I can say I have seen snow before I leave to Cam-Bam. 
And then guess what we had after that? Another devotional. I think they're trying to bombard us with devotionals so we begin to hate the MTC and leaving won't be as hard. They're manipulation is working. I am so ready to get out to the field! 
Every Sunday devotional begins with a musical number performed by a missionary. Elder Seegmiller got to perform an original arrangement of "More Holiness Give Me" on the piano! It was sicky sick! He represented the Viet's well. Elder Seegmiller is going to be serving in Anaheim, California so his goodbye will be really sad. I'm totes not looking forward to that. 
That's my recap for the past few days. It hasn't even sunk in yet that I am leaving for Cambodia TOMORROW! I am really interested to see where I get assigned first. I wonder if I'll go to Vietnam soon? For the past year before receiving my call I was hoping to serve in Vietnam, or somewhere Vietnamese speaking. Now the time is finally here to go serve the Vietnamese people! LEGGO!
Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive and has sent me packages and wrote letters and emails the past two months. I am not sure if I will be able to write letters from Cambodia, but I will let you all know next week. Stay safe. Stay righteous. Love others. 
-For the last time from the US, with love,
Sister Egelund
These are all the missionaries that are leaving this week! Can you tell that we were all crying?
The Viet district trying to be really Asian and throwing up the peace signs. Elder Seegmiller thinks that he shouldn't do it because he's not really Asian; although we have all accepted him as one of us. 
All of the Sisters in our Halloween costumes! Yeah, we're the bees knees. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Peacing out on the MTC!

In the words of the late Michael Jackson, "This is it." In other words, this is the last email from the MTC! I leave for Cambodia on November 5! I have loved my experience at the MTC so much and honestly I am really sad to go. There are days here that I think I will starve to death because the food is awful, there are days that I miss wearing pants and there are days that I just want to be able to sleep on the couch and watch Back to the Future repeatedly, but being a missionary is the absolute best thing ever! Did you know I have about 15 months left of my mission?! I never want this experience to end. Every single day I feel closer to our Heavenly Father and I have built my testimony in a way that I couldn't anywhere else. I still cannot believe that I am only 19 years old and I have the opportunity to serve The Lord for a year and a half. This morning at the temple I realized that I am so young, but I have had the opportunity to enter into the temple and receive so many blessings from that! Just over a year ago I was thinking that right now I would be in my sophomore year of college, but I am really grateful for this new path I am able to take. I cannot really explain how great it feels, it's a bit surreal, but I would never trade this experience for anything. Now in less than a week I will be in Cambodia serving the Vietnamese people! Goodness, I am so excited to actually be in the field and teaching real investigators.

Yesterday at devotional Elder Godoy of the Seventy shared with us his conversion story. He told us the first time the missionaries taught him he knew without a doubt that it was all true. He couldn't believe that God's church was on the earth again and everyone didn't know about it. He didn't understand why CNN and newspapers weren't broadcasting to the whole world that God's church was on the earth again. He is so right! God's church is on this earth RIGHT NOW and there are so many people that don't know about it. 
Lesson one: Share the Gospel with everyone! This is a HUGE deal!
So Elder Godoy joined the church about a month after first meeting with the missionaries. But soon after being baptized the sisters were transferred and no one in the ward had fellowshipped him. He always knew the church was true, but soon became inactive because he never felt included. 
Lesson two: Be friends with everyone! There are two types of conversion: Conversion by water and social conversion. Everyone needs to feel the love and spirit of our Heavenly Father and they also need to feel the love of fellow ward members. 
After a couple of years he went back to the church just to see what everyone was doing for some Brazilian holiday and while he was there they invited him to go to youth conference. He went, felt the Spirit and made the choice to become active again. The happiness of the members around him was the selling point throughout all of his conversion story. He saw so many members that were happy and wanted to be like them. From that point on, he has been strong in the church. He began attending early morning seminary, served a full-time mission, served as a mission president in Brazil and is now part of the Seventy. 
Lesson three: Invite people to activities, and do not assume that because someone is inactive they are not interested in coming back to the church. Elder Godoy really stressed the point that people do not always go inactive because they are evil sinners, or they are lazy. A lot of the time the reason for little or no church attendance is because it's just not a comfortable and friendly environment. If you are reading this and think that you are friendly enough, you are wrong. There have been multiple times that I have had no desire to go to church because I didn't fit in. My entire senior year of high school I didn't attend Sunday School once because I felt like it would be awkward and I wouldn't have anything to say in conversations. So, always be friendly...TO EVERYONE. All members need to feel the social acceptance of other members of the church. 
Okay, that is the soap box portion of my email. 
Nothing really funny happened this week. We're all stressing out because chung ta khong biet gi het. Translation: we don't know anything. So that's awesome. 
Hope you all have a great week! I would write more but I'm out of time. Your next email will be coming from Cambodia, or maybe Vietnam!!
Love you all heap loads!
-Sister Egelund
This is the guy that started MormonProbs on Twitter and Facebook. He's famous among the Mormons. I actually hate him. #NoBiggie
 The zone on Sunday, October 27.
I don't really know this Elder but dad met him at the airport when he was flying in to Utah. Elder Tran's best friend is in his district too.