Monday, December 23, 2013

Vietnam is hoppin' and poppin'

This year I literally will be dreaming of a white Christmas.
It's like 85 degrees here in Vietnam so I guess I shouldn't expect to wake up to snow on Christmas morning, right?
Christmas here is a really weird feeling for me. There are Christmas decorations everywhere and everyone is wearing green or red around, but without the snow it just doesn't feel right. The Vietnamese really go all out for Christmas though! 
Hey, my cousin Anh Hoang is the best and got me this shirt for Christmas. Being here with my family gets better and better all the time.
There are insane, huge decorations everywhere and they're gorgeous. Every business has lights, all the people that sell things on the streets are also selling Santa suits and the members and investigators have made us the cutest cards. Ahh I love it! For the most part the holidays haven't made me miss home, but I did have a little run in with something people called "emotions" last week. Last p-day the four sisters went to District 1 to look at Christmas decorations. I have a love hate relationship with District 1 because it has amazing shopping (even a Marc Jacobs store), but it's so westernized that it throws me off and I don't feel like I'm in Vietnam anymore. So we rode for about 45 minutes to get there and the streets were completely lined with amazing decorations! The weather wasn't that great though, so I wasn't really feeling the impromptu photo shoot the other sisters were having. We pulled up to a small mall to go inside and see their Christmas arrangement. Outside of the mall the Michael Buble Christmas album was playing and we all know that good music just means trouble for a missionary. The minute we stepped into the mall I started bawling! Seriously, there were tears everywhere! And you wanna know the reason why I started crying? Because the mall smelled like an actual mall and it reminded me of being at City Creek mall! #FirstWorldProblems I was seriously crying because I felt like I was at home with the overbearing scent of perfume! It was the worst. To top it off the security guy was laughing at me and kept asking me why I was at a mall where you're supposed to be having fun and I was crying. #GetOffMyCase I know you all think I'm an idiot after hearing about that, but how about you try and not go to the mall for three months! Family and friends, I know you all too well, you would have done the same thing if you were me. Haha.
Friday was our branch Christmas party but it ended up being a party for all of Sai Gon!
Awko-taco Christmas party pics.
The party was hoppin' and poppin' with tons of people that we had contacted and the friends and family of members and investigators. For me, the party was literally a miracle! Hundreds of people showed up and we could barely fit all of them! Lately the work has been progressing very slowly, so to have this night when so many people showed up was amazing! We took tons of pictures so I'll attach them for you. One of the photos is of me, Vivi and Truc Ly. We're actually a girl band named LyLyVi. It's like not a huge deal or anything but we're going to remix the hymns in 14 months when I'm not a missionary anymore, and that's how I'm going to continue my missionary work - through making super sweet tunes that speak to the soul.
The girl band LyLyVi!
Anh Ca Hieu getting the transfer call.
Last night the Thao Dien district went to a member families house for dinner. This family is Korean but have been living in Vietnam for the past 12 years. We had a joyous one hour bike ride to their apartment, then had the best meal I have had in a very very long time!! We all took a seat at the table and you know what they pulled out of the oven? A TURKEY. A straight up, full size, delicious turkey. I could not believe my eyes! All the things that are normal at home are like little miracles here. I mean, I didn't even know you could buy a turkey like that here. Mind = Blown. So that was a straight up 10 in my book! While riding back home we got the transfer call! Can you believe that I have already been in Vietnam for one whole transfer?! I'm staying put for at least another six week but Anh ca Hieu who has been serving here for about 8 months is going up to Hanoi, and his companion Anh Ca Tri is going to the other branch. They aren't bringing in any new Elders to our branch though, so it's just going to be four missionaries for our branch instead of six. I'm a little scared of that because Chi Van and I now have to take the investigators of Tri and Hieu and we already had our plates full with our own people. Challenge accepted though! Getting the transfer call was hilarious though. Elder Hieu picked up the phone and we all pulled over on the side of the street. He got off his bike and sat on the ground with his head against a wall while still wearing his bike helmet. It was so loud and we couldn't here what he was saying, but for anyone driving by they would have thought the poor kid was dying. Haha What's cool though is that Chi Van's mom and sister just got baptized in Hanoi so Elder Hieu is going to be the one who teachers the recent convert lessons to them!
This morning we did service for a tearing down her entire home. She lives in a home about the size of your average living room and the house is made of scavenged wood, tarp and metal. You would think that this home (shack) would be easy to take down, but the fun thing about shacks is that they're like four layers of junk that is just nailed together. It took about five hours and 12 missionaries, and it's still not all done...Oh Vietnam, it just gets better and better every day.
My investigators are the cutest of cute.
So that's a recap of this week. I hope Christmas is fresh to death for all of you! I'm fully expecting you all to have one of those cardboard cutouts of me that you take everywhere. Not joking.
Love you all!
-Chi Ca Ly/Trinh/Fat/Egelund

Just another photo with the fambam.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

JoBro's are da bomb

Sorry I'm writing you all on a Tuesday instead of Monday like usual. We had a conference yesterday with President Moon. He came out to HCM for a couple days as our "Christmas present". It was pretty good other than the fact that the power was out the entire morning and we were forced to have the conference in the dark and without air conditioning. I love the heat though so no probs. The best part of President Moon coming is always the food. Last time he was here we ordered Domino's Pizza and this time we went out to a pretty good restaurant. I had a chicken panini and it was a major throwback to my SVU days when I ate chicken panini's every single day. The menus at the restaurant had pictures of the Jonas Brothers on it though...that was basically the worst thing to ever happen.

Jonas Brothers menu's at a "high class" restaurant. 
 Last week the district went to Burger King and the JoBro's were playing and I wanted to die because I have loved them for like five years. I had to cover my ears while at BK and yesterday at the restaurant the Elders took the menus away from me. #RoughLife Seriously though, music has been a HUGE temptation for me. Trying to leave behind all those worldly things is so much harder than I thought it would be. Once while at BK Norah Jones started playing. NORAH JONES! The woman that I have loved since I was like 10 years old! And a couple weeks ago I had Pocket Full of Sunshine stuck in my head! Seriously, of all the songs that could be stuck in my head it was that. PMITF Usually when I get those worldly things in my head though I just sing "Come Thou Fount" and I feel like a 10 again. 
-So each Thursday and Friday we have English classes and this week was the end of a six week course so we had a special activity - BINGO! I was the Emcee along with Anh Ca Tri and it was the bees knees. No one understands my jokes so that's always the best. The grand prize for the winner was a rice cooker...classic. When we presented it everyone flipped out. I've never seen such an intense game of bingo!
-At the church we have two security guys who're basically the absolute best! They're hilarious and they're kind of like dad's for the missionaries. They always help us out and talk to us while we wait at the church for lessons. Early last week one of them saw that my watch is gold and told me I have to get rid of it or someone will cut off my hand while I'm biking. Yep, that legitimately happens. I bought a new watch a couple hours later...
-I used to think in Vietnam there were only two accents, but apparently people in each province speak differently. The members think I speak with a central accent, so now I'm totally embracing that. There aren't any missionaries that aren't native that speak central, so my goal is to get really good at it. I'm not quite sure how I have developed a central accent other than maybe it's from hearing the family speak with it and the summer I spent here I lived in a central city, but I don't know if that's enough for me to actually speak like that. I've learned most of my Viet in the MTC and in Saigon, so it's interesting that I sound different. Plus, my companion is northern so if anything I should be speaking like her. I refuse to have a northern accent though! Everything in the south that would be said with a 'ra' or 'ya' sound, the northerner's say 'za'. I absolutely hate it. 
-The best news of this week: I'm changing my name! That's right, I'm no longer Trinh, at least for my first name. I chose the name Trinh before because it's my mom's maiden name, but her Trinh has a different accent that makes it a last name. For missionaries we use first names though so I had to make mine different. Well, I never really liked the name so I'm changing my name to Ly. In Vietnamese if a person is older than you, you call them Chi or Anh and they call younger people Em. I'm younger than most people so they call me Em Trinh and if I change my name everyone will call me Em Ly - Emily! Sweet huh?! And now that I have a different first name my last name can be Trinh like my mom's maiden name! So my name is Ly Trinh. I still have to figure out what my middle name is though. I'm pretty excited about this! 
And that is all for this week. It's almost Christmas! I hope the holidays are going well for all of you! 
Listen to the JoBro's for me, okay?
You know you're in Vietnam when the Christmas tree isn't full enough until it gets wrapped with Christmas garland. 
-Chi Ca Ly
P.S. I already know the Jonas Brothers broke up so if anyone reply's to this email telling me about it I will be upset. I already went through a mourning period, I don't need to be reminded of that. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

They call me fat, they call me Emily. That's not my name, that's not my name.

So I don't have an actual story to share this week, just a bunch of little things.
-First, I have found out that I know quite a bit of Vietnamese slang because of mom. At the MTC one of my teachers who has met mom said that she talks like she's young and it's really cool. I'm not quite sure how I feel about people thinking my mother is cool because she uses slang. Anyway, I picked up a lot of that slang before the mission and my companion laughs at me when I use it.
We bought matching dresses. I think they refer to that as companionship unity.
-We found out the plans for Christmas...we're not doing anything. There was a tiny hope that maybe we would be going to Cambodia for Christmas, but nope, we get to hangout around here. Oh, here's my address for all of you that asked:
 Sister Egelund
#2b, Street 222 off Norodom, P.O. 165
Sangkat Chaktumuk, Khan Daun Penh
-Chi Van and I taught Relief Society yesterday. Guess what our topic was? Breast feeding. I'm so happy that they taught me all of that vocabulary in the MTC. All of the women laughed at us and it was extremely awkward. The best part was that there were about five investigators there who were having their first church experience. Welcome to the Mormon church...
-The investigators have been amazing! We're actually overwhelmed with the number of people we have to teach. So much work to be done, so little time! I'm very thankful for the blessing of having the opportunity to teach so many people though!
-The members have now named me Chi Map which means Sister fat. The Vietnamese people really are the sweetest people on earth. Haha I really do love the honesty of Vietnamese people. You always know when you look ugly.
-A lot of the YSA added me on Facebook before I was a missionary so they always call me Emily. That's a problem.
That's all for this week. Sorry I didn't have much to say.
Oh and family, thank you for updating me on the status of my goldfish, Joey. I am glad to hear he is doing well and cannot wait to see him in fifteen months.
Love, Sister fat

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Obesity for the win

I do not understand how the time goes by so quickly! I have been in the mission field for almost a month now!
So there is no insane story for this week. Sorry about that folks.
Yesterday I had my first baptism! Chi Sen was baptized and it was a 10!
Chi Sen at her baptism!
On Friday the Thao Dien district went to a members house for service. We spent hours cutting down trees and weeds with butcher knives so they can plant a garden. When we first began Anh Ca Hieu, our district leader, looked at a small tree and said "This is a good starter" then cut it down. Well, a few minutes later the neighbor came out and yelled at us. Elder Hieu cut down her banana tree. Whoops. It's okay though because the members cooked it and we ate it for dinner. Haha. Tomorrow we get to go back and plant the garden. Everyone kept asking me what I thought about yard work like we don't do it in America or something...
The cousins at church! It's a pretty unique thing to be serving in a branch, but also having my family here.
My companion makes me eat everything that members give us. Consequently I am getting fat. That is my reasoning for not sending any pictures lately, plus missionary work just makes you ugly.
Fun realization: I should be getting home just after Valentines day 2015. Do you know what that means?! I get to go to Walmart and get tons of discounted candy. So family and friends, I am inviting you now to join me in the celebration.
Oh speaking of celebrations - Thanksgiving! The twelve of us went out to eat at a restaurant with the senior couple, Elder and Sister Perry. The restaurant was nice, but the food was basic and overpriced. We did the typical thing of going around the table and saying one thing you're grateful for; basically it was a testimony meeting. I have a lot to be grateful for this year though. Most recently, I'm grateful that not only I'm serving a mission, but I'm serving in Vietnam. I'm grateful for the temple (which I miss so much). I'm grateful that I was able to go to school in Virginia and have so many wonderful experiences. I am grateful that my friends and family are doing well and that I have been able to grow closer with many of them through serving. I'm grateful for La Frontera and that they have the best smothered burritos in the world. Really, I'm just grateful for everything. This past year is not what I expected at all, but I loved every moment of it!
Even more family! Haha these ones are from America and came by the church to say hi while they were visiting.
That's all for this week. I'll try to have crazier experiences this upcoming week to keep you all entertained.
Happy holidays from Vietnam where it's always hot and humid.