Friday, November 28, 2014

Debt Crisis

I'm sure that all of you are already aware, but Thanksgiving is this week!

Is has been SO long since I've had a real, at home Thanksgiving dinner. Last year I was in the field and we went to a Mexican restaurant. The year before that I was at SVU and went home for the holiday but we were too lazy to cook so we went out to eat at the Grand America hotel. The year prior to that I had just had my jaw surgery the day before and wasn't able to eat anything. I'm determined that this year is going to be a good one though! This afternoon our district is going to buffet it up to celebrate and on Thursday we're having dinner with all of the ex-pats here in the branch! They have assigned me to bring the jello...#MormonHoliday #GreenJello

Of course as the holidays come close we all take time to reflect on the past year and the things we are grateful for. The year of 2014 is one for the books! I've met a lot of really difficult trials this past year that required a lot of faith to overcome, but I have also seen and experienced so many miracles! I am so grateful for the opportunity I've had to spend this year as a missionary in Vietnam and Cambodia. Through the ups and downs of missionary life, I've been reminded of the counsel of the hymns to "count your blessings." In doing so I have seen that boy oh boy, I have been blessed with so much! And to quote another hymn - "Because I have been given much I too must give." That is what keeps me serving - throughout my entire life I have been blessed with the Lord's strength to overcome so many things. Now, the least I can do to repay a tiny portion of my debt is to serve for a year and a half. My favorite scripture is found in Mosiah 2:34:
" are eternally indebted to your Heavenly Father, to render to him all that you have and are..."
We are all in debt to Heavenly Father. So as you think about what you are thankful for this week, remember that all of those blessings come from our Heavenly Father. And then remember that because you have received so much from Him, you now need to go out and give. Have a fun week eating lots of food and loosening your belts after every piece of pumpkin pie, and please try and find a way to serve while you're at it.

So what is Sister Egelund thankful for this year?

There is a looooot to be grateful for, but I am most grateful for all of the people in my life that have supported me on my mission, and I am grateful for all of the new people that entered my life this past year. So now is the time that I make a typical Emily-style list full of shout outs:

#CountYourBlessings #PeopleI'mGratefulFor

@ÔngMập - My dad, Dan Egelund, the coolest dad ever! He goes on trips with me to Disneyland. He's the only one in my family that emails me each week. He teaches me how to be a missionary by sharing experiences from his own mission. He's a legit boy scout. He makes delicious food. He taught me how to make boondoggles. He's a white man but can speak Vietnamese. He taught me how to do math, AKA count money. His jokes are impeccable! Basically he taught me everything I know and I love that man!

@MẹHùngViệtNam - My momma, Hương Egelund. She always tells me she loves me. She lets me hold her hand when we're at church or the mall. She's the reason that my English sounds funny (I've realized while on my mission that I say a lot of words incorrectly.) Momma Hương always tried to help others. And the best part about her is that her English name is also Emily. We're kinda like Alma the older and younger!

@EricEnrique - My little brother Eric is a stud! I like him because he washes my car. And he's got jokes on jokes on jokes. He has lots of muscles so I can always count on him to take the groceries from my car into the house. He's a good example of loving all of those around you. And he always shows his love for me by picking up food from La Frontera, or by running down to Arby's for me. 

@WhiteWashErin - So my little sister Erim may look like a full white person, but she's got some of that typical feisty Viet blood in her. She's cool because she likes a lot of the same things as me. It's been kind of funny to watch her grow up and have a personality really similar to mine. Erin is a million times smarter than I am and she can help me with my homework when I get home...She lets me borrow her clothes. She always goes out to eat with me so I don't have to go alone. 

@TheWhiteFamily - Kristin, Gabe, Michael, Marianne, Grandpa, Sherolyn, you're all super cool. I miss all of the times that the whole family would get together for the holidays at Grandma Karen's house. Or the times we would go to Cherry Hill and the funnest part of the whole day was receiving ziplock bags full of candy from Aunt Marianne! Ahh, those were the days!

@PresMoonie - I have the coolest mission president! It's a good thing that he's such a calm man because each week I send him crazy emails. Most of the time he puts up with all of my shenanigans. And he even laughs at my jokes!

@TommyMonson - Quick shoutout to President Monson because I love him!

@AshTheAlligator - The best best friend ever! She has nice white skin. She emails me every week and always has good stories of what's going on at home. She always listens to me complain, but then encourages me to keep going! She drives me to get donuts and chicken sandwiches. She lets me choose her outfits for her. She teaches me to be cool. And she always lets me be friends with her friends - she's good at sharing. 

@ModernMedicine - Thanks for keeping me healthy so I could go back out to the field and keep serving!

So there are a million other people that I want to give shoutouts to, but I can't be late to the Thanksgiving buffet or the elders will kill me! Have a good holiday everyone, and remember to find a way to serve! I love you all! I love my mission! I love the Jonas Brothers...

I LOVE Thao Dien! (I was bored with it for like a week, but I love it again.) 

-Sister Egelund

Monday, November 17, 2014

Vietnam Takes Over England

I have been serving in the Thao Dien branch for quite a while now - 10 and a half months to be exact. And for the past few weeks I have been writing up my "transfer call prediction bracket" and trying to guess what branch I will serve in this next transfer.

I have always been the type of person that loves change. I love the Thao Dien branch more than I love conspiracy theories, but I've been here so long that I kind of feel uneasy because I need some sort of change. Please note that there is a distinctive difference between always wanting change and having commitment least I think there is. 

Anyway, I thought I would be leaving this branch, but last night after hours of anxiously waiting by the phone I received the transfer call...and I'm staying in Thao Dien. That's 12 months in the record books for me here! 12 months = 1 year. I have never actually done anything for one year. #EgelundWorldRecord 
After receiving the info I was feeling a little blue - I wanted to go experience a new area, or at least go to one of my old ones. Looking back on just this past week though, my time that I've been blessed to have here in Thao Dien has been so amazing! One year ago I just began my mission as a fat little greenie serving in this branch and getting hit by motorcycles. Now, this year I'm a fat almost-dead missionary!

There was a day this week that all of our plans fell through. From 2 - 6 o'clock we were totally free and we had no idea what we would do to fill our time. The elders came to our apartment asking to borrow our phone because theirs was out of money. Elder Bao was making calls to tons of people trying to find someone to help in a lesson with a member, Cô Phương. No one was free though so the elders were forced to cancel the lesson. I had overheard what was going on so I offered to go out and teach the lesson for them. The elders agreed and we were able to find something to do that afternoon! The lesson started out a bit rocky because we weren't really prepared to teach, but in the end it was a good time! Cô Phương is a long time member relatively speaking compared to how long the church has been here in Vietnam, and she's the bees knees! The first time I ever went to her home was for Christmas dinner last year. It feels really strange to think about what I was doing a year ago, and I'm still at the same places visiting the same people. 

That same evening we taught Em Tuyết, a girl who just "graduated" from being a recent convert, meaning that she has been a member of the church for over a year. She's a cutie pie and has such a strong testimony. If I could have been like her when I was only 17 years old I would be a straight up power house by now. Tuyết is also someone that I taught when I first started my mission. I think when I first came to Vietnam she had just been baptized a few weeks prior. I wish you could all meet this girl! She's the skinniest person I've ever met - there's no way she weighs more than 70 pounds. But she bears a testimony that'll knock your socks off. I love her more than I love tootsie rolls. 

After we taught Tuyết we were leaving the church and one of our recent converts, Em Sen, asked if we had some time to teach her a quick lesson. Oh course, anything for my fave Sen Sen! Em Sen is the first one of my investigators that was baptized so of course she has a special place in my heart. She too has an extremely powerful testimony despite that fact that her family forbids her to come to church. For months she hasn't been able to attend church regularly, and when she has come she can only spend about 15 minutes with us. But through all of her hardships she has been able to keep her testimony and slowly she has persuaded her family to allow her more time at the church!

That day was a 10! Being here in this branch honestly gets a little boring sometimes because I'm so used to everything, but it is such a fun blessing to get to see how so many of us have changed within a year!

One more change I've seen in this past year: Before I began my mission all the members here in Vietnam had already added me on Facebook. Upon arriving it was really awkward because everyone already knew things about me, and I already knew a little bit about everyone else as well. Anyway, there's a member, Chị Tâm, who I had talked to a tiny bit with before the mish. Once I was able to actually meet her face to face we were kind of already friends. Long story short, Tâm has been preparing to serve a mission for a really long time, and last night she opened her mission call and will be serving in the LONDON ENGLAND SOUTH MISSION! WHAAAAAAA?! Only two other members in Vietnam have ever served outside of the Cambodia/Vietnam mission - Temple Square and Atlanta, GA. So when it comes to guessing where someone will go...well we don't really even guess because we just assume that everyone will serve in Cambo. NO ONE saw this one coming though! Gosh, I am so hackin' excited for her! BTW I'm now planning myself a trip to England next year...

Thao Dien, you are my first long term relationship. I must really love you because we've had a lot of really difficult times together, but I've never wanted to leave you. You mean a lot to me. I hope we always have a strong relationship... 
I love this country. See that big bridge? Yeah, I bike it every day! #GetFit And that's only a fourth of it!

See ya guys,
Sister Egelund 

Oh! As for the transfer...
I'm staying with Sister Thi and all the elders in my branch are the same...but they're adding another set of elders to our branch too. Eight missionaries in one branch...President Moon knows that great things are about to happen!

Sister Hunsaker is leaving...this is the worst thing to ever happen to me. This transfer is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year...and I'm going to be away from my Trinh Twin. #TearsOnTears

Baptism!! Báp Têm!!

Cô Thoa. (Insert all of the heart emojis to describe how much I love her!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


"Do whatever you want, it's not like I need a play by play." NAME THAT MOVIE
I spent a few evenings trying to think of a specific theme and topic for this email based on the past week, but things were so mumbo-jumbo that I'm just going to give you a daily play by play.

Monday - I was in Cambodia. We spent the day at the market buying fabric to get dresses made. Heads up - I'm coming home with a hamburger dress! That night we taught an investigator named Chú Sang. He was drunk while we taught him, but we didn't realize it until the end of the lesson. You're probably thinking to yourself, "Emily, you idiot. How did you not notice that he was drunk?" First, it's so darn hot that the heat makes everybody go crazy and they're always running around like a bunch of drunks. And second, you can't smell the alcohol because the stench of garbage and your own body odor is overwhelming! He was a pretty cool drunk though. Before I began my mission I was really sad thinking that I wouldn't be able to hold hands with anyone for 18 months (I believe that all friends and families should always hold hands.) In the middle of the lesson though Chú Sang started crying because he hasn't seen his mother for like 20 years and the last time he saw her was in Vietnam and now he doesn't even know if she's still alive. It was so sad to see him like that so I just let him hold my hand while he cried. We had a good moment together. 

Tuesday - Still in Cambodia. We biked a lot resulting in lots of sweat. We went to visit a member who was kind enough to offer to let me take a shower in her bathroom because it was so hot. People in Cambodia have this thing about taking multiple showers a day and they always think the missionaries are barbaric when they hear we just take the traditional 2 showers a day. Trust me, if I could take 6 showers a day I would. But in the words of my companion Sister Thi, "nobody got time for that." 

Wednesday - Still in Cambodia. This day was enjoyed by having over 6 hours of training meetings with President Moon. I could tell you about the million and one cool things we learned, but I'm afraid if I type that much I'll get carpal tunnel...But let me direct you to a super amazing talk about the worth of a soul and that'll sum up most everything that I learned. (It's attached in a link at the bottom.)

Thursday - Woke up at 4:30 am to hop on a bus back to Vietnam. I think they made us go so early because the yearly water festival was going on and the AP's were worried that the streets would be extremely crowded. But from what I heard, this year was actually pretty mellow because a couple years ago the festival got so out of hand that the police weren't able to control the crowds and 300 people yeah, now everyone is afraid to go outside during the festival.

Friday - Back in Vietnam. We had zone training and Sister Thi and I had the opportunity to share for the first time as sister training leaders. A little scary because I have a fear of unintentionally sharing false the end it was a good meeting though. In our zone we have a goal to help our members become 'Preach My Gospel members'. Like I shared a couple months ago about giving a member a copy of Preach My Gospel and having them share the five lessons with us - that's what we're going to try and do throughout our entire zone!

Saturday - Four eight-year-old kids in the branch were baptized! So many thumbs up for the second generation of members of the church here in Vietnam!! Afterwards one of the families provided a giant chocolate the shape of a minion holding a Book of Mormon. #TMS And they let us take the leftovers home so I was pretty thrilled. Saturday night we started our Chinese class! It was a success with a total of 9 students! And I can now say "Jesus loves you!" in Chinese! #SweetSuccess

Sunday - Church! Five minutes before Relief Society began they informed me that the teacher had forgot to prepare a lesson and they asked if I could teach. "Sure. What's the lesson supposed to be about?", I asked. The Relief Society president points to the white board that has the name of the lessons written on it - "THE WORTH OF A SOUL" Bingooooooo! Deal. I'll teach it! 

Sister Thi has only ever worn makeup once in her life, so last night I forced her to let me put makeup on her...then she got an allergic reaction. #SisterInZion

I really like being a missionary. 
That's it for this week.
Write me emails please. I've watched every single Mormon message already and I'm out of things to do to keep me busy while sitting at the internet shops.

Chị Cả Trịnh Ly

Prepare for lots of photos:

Zone luuuuuuuunch!

They used to call me Sister Sassy but now they're transitioning to the name Sister that has that stick for selfies...

Kids in Cambo. #BreakingTheWhiteHandbookAndAdoptingThemAll
My homies Xuyên and Nam at the baptism.

Cambodia - where one business fixes tv's and curls hair! #PMGUseTimeWisely

Teaching Bà Tư how to smile!

This whole group of people left the MTC together, and exactly one year later we all got to meet up at the mission home!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"These are a few of my favorite [and least favorite] things." - The Sound of Music

I got here to Cambodia on Friday afternoon and immediately hit the streets of branch 6 with Sister Thi. Not the same Sister Thi that's my companion though...a different Sister Thi. The Sister Thi that is my companion, her last name is Tieng. We would call her Sister Tieng...but we already have two other Sister Tieng's as well. 

Being back in branch 6 is fun, but like always, Cambodia just kicks my butt. I'm here getting my visa renewed and we have leadership council with President Moon on Wednesday. Meaning I have left my area for a week...Let's hope the elders didn't mess anything up while we were gone. I told them they couldn't have any parties while I was out of town, but I found out they had a huge Halloween party and invited all of the members! #NoInvite

I'm staying in a house with Sister Litchfield and her child Sister Thao, the one from Laos, and Sister Thi. The child is really cute and super goofy. She can't really say much in either English nor Viet, but she always laughs at my jokes so she's pretty cool in my eyes.

Honestly, there's not a lot to say about this past week. We just got permission from President Moon to start a Chinese class in Vietnam! Sister Thi will start teaching that next week so hopefully it goes well. 

Last night Sister Litchfield tried to sabotage me by giving me a bunch of chocolate right before bed. (By the way, if you want to send me anything for Christmas I found out that I really really like caramel apple Milky Ways...) After we all binged on chocolate none of us could go to sleep so after laying in bed for an hour or so Sister Thao sang us a song in Laotian and Sister Litchfield sang in French. I thought we were all singing songs to get in touch with our roots so I was going to sing Para Bailar La Bamba or some song in Spanish...but they all fell asleep before I could get the chance.

I was still wide awake though so I made a mental list some of the things I like and dislike about Cambo:

- I do like that there's a lot of missionaries here. It keeps things diverse and more fun. In Vietnam it's just the twelve of us. We're all Vietnamese people and we're all pretty boring.
- I don't like that I sweat so much. I didn't even know so much water could come out of my face.
- I do like that the missionary work is similar to the kind of stuff they teach you about in the MTC and all the stories I hear my friends talk about from their missions. No one ever really talks about the time that they accidentally contacted the police and thought they were going to go to jail. Serving in Vietnam in unique, but sometimes it's fun to hear stories from my friends and understand what they're experiencing because I'm going through similar stuff. 
- I do like seeing members and other missionaries when I'm out in public. Here it's a totally normal thing and people are always shouting "hello Sistaaas!" It reminds me of all the times while growing up that I would roll down the car window and say hello to the Elders while they walked down the street. 
- And the thing I've realized that I hate the most - REJECTION. I hate it in real life and I hate it as a missionary. I hate when people do it to me, and I especially hate doing it to other people. Because we are allowed to go to the homes of investigators here in Cambodia, there are a lot of times that we get to their homes and they reject us saying that they don't want to learn with the missionaries anymore. And all I can do is just awkwardly moon walk away from the situation. I hate it! Rejection and rejecting are literally the two worst words in my vocabulary. 

Sorry this email isn't very exciting. Emotions cause wrinkles so I try to stay away from those. Haha

Love you all! See ya in 15 weeks!

Love, Sister Egelund
Carving Viet pumpkins and a photo bomb courtesy of Elder Bao. 

Co Cuc Nga just got her call to serve as a church service missionary! She will serve in the Thao Dien and Tan Son Nhat branch and starts this week!

This is Sister Thi and Sister Tra's family! They're some of the most devoted people I know! Chi Xuan, their older sister, just got baptized a couple months ago while Thi and Tra were on their missions.

The Roller Coaster Ride

October 26, 2014

My first email I sent to President Moon when I arrived back to the mission field described what it feels like to be on this roller coaster ride of emotions I feel as a missionary. What I didn't realize at the time I wrote that email was that the ride hadn't even started! All I had done was sit down and fasten my seat belt. This week the roller coaster took off though and we have already gone through some crazy stuff.
This week had a couple steep drops down, but also a lot of high points. You know when you're at the very top of the coaster and you can look out and see everything in front of you? The sun is shining really bright and although you're only up there for one second the time feels infinite? The high points this week were like that.
So the ride quickly went to a high point this week on Wednesday when we found four new investigators at English class! In the middle of Elder Bao's class we split the students up because we had so many people there. I got to teach an English class of my own for the first time in like six months. Meaning that I also had the opportunity to teach the gospel message for the first time in a long time. And it went really well! These four students, this was their first time to class and they really wanted to learn about the church afterwards. That never happens!

On Thursday and Friday the coaster took us through a couple loops as we did exchanges for training.
Trinh Twins on exchange...
I spent the day with Sister Hunsaker in the Thao Dien branch and we planned ourselves an action packed, missionary work filled day...until the people we planned on meeting cancelled and the Elders called and said they noticed Sister Hunsaker's bike was broken and they took it out to get fixed. Well, it didn't take me 14 months of this mission thing to understand that it's not a companion exchange unless something goes wrong.
Around noon the bike was supposed to be done so we went to go pick it up. but we were left with only one bike so I had to bike while Sister Hunsaker rode on the back. Definitely not a skill I've picked up on the mission, but it went surprisingly well. (I took pictures to prove it.) So we get there, and they still didn't have the bike finished! So now what do we do? No bike = nothing to really do. All members live at least a half hour away by bicycle, and the area we were in was white people central so contacting would be difficult. So I followed my instincts and went and bought myself an oatmeal raisin cookie to cheer myself up. 
Even more of the Trinh Twins.

So now the Trinh Twins both had cookies in hand, and no place to sit down and eat we went to Popeye's. We're sitting there, kickin' it old school while 2012 top 40 hits is playing and the air conditioner is making me drowsy, and I look around to find that two American members are there getting food too! The number of members here in Vietnam is really few, so seeing a fellow member out in public is as freaky as watching a dog walk on two legs.
While leaving we stopped to talk to them. Oh, their names are David and Josh by the way. Anyway, so Josh invited us to sit down and share a spiritual thought with them. Umm...okay. We're in Popeye's, it smells like fried chicken, the walls are painted the brightest shade of orange known to mankind, and One Direction is playing - it's a perfect setting to share the Gospel. But like I've told you all before, I think lessons are always better when the missionaries don't teach, but the members are the ones to teach and testify to us. So I invited Josh, a returned missionary from Australia, to share his favorite scripture with us. And the next half hour was like crazy Harry Potter magic!
He shared about the sons of Mosiah and how they were the "very violest of sinners", and they suffered "much anguish of soul because of their iniquities." The sons of Mosiah had done many many wrongs things and openly rebelled against God and His church in their past. And although they had left those things behind in their past, choosing to never do them again, they still had regrets. They were still remorseful for the things they had done. And they didn't feel worthy. But "the Lord saw fit in His infinite mercy to spare them." The Lord loved them so He saved them. Heavenly Father loved them so He forgave. And by feeling the grace and love of God in their lives, they chose to go and declare of the Lord's goodness to the Lamanites!
Every single one of us is going to face trials. Every single one of us is going to be faced with whirlwinds and storms that could potentially break us and throw us to the ground. Our trials are our make or break moments. And we have to choose - we have to choose if our sins will pull us into the storm, or if they will make us stronger! Are you going to hold on to the burdens that come from guilt and sulk in your misery because you feel weak? Or are you going to reach out and grab the hand of the Lord that is always extended towards you, and allow Him to pull you back to safety? That's the question we have to constantly ask ourselves - am I going to let the Lord save me? The sons of Mosiah were forgiven after true, sincere repentance. We too can be forgiven. They "experienced a change of heart, and . . . [sang] the song of redeeming love" then went out and shared that joy with others!
All of this happened while in the Popeye's! That's testimony to me that the Spirit can be felt in any place, and although a bunch of things go wrong and plans fall through, the Lord will always lead us to where we need to be. Shout out to Josh! I don't know how much of a help the sister missionaries were to you, but Sister Hunsaker and I both agreed that our testimonies were strengthened that day because of all that you shared!
I want to end this email right here on a high note, but this email is about the roller coaster. And all things that go up must come down. And this drop in the ride is probably the quickest, lowest drop I've experienced in my mission. Sunday afternoon while sitting outside of a members house I had to hear her blatantly tell us that she has chosen a different path in her life, and that path doesn't include the church. We all know inactive members, we all know people that don't want to attend church anymore, but being there as this member finally admitted this to us, and honestly admitted it to herself that she has chosen to not attend church anymore, it broke my heart. i just wanted her to understand that having faith in Christ is the best, and the only way to be truly happy! I know that! I've climbed up to some really tall points of the roller coaster and I've looked out and I know that there are a bunch of loops, and drops, and some scary heights coming up. Sometimes we're unsure if we're going to be able to handle it. But we have all been promised that if we will hold on tight we'll enjoy the ride.
I love roller coasters. I love when you drop down and your heart skips a beat, but then all of a sudden you're going back up and you feel on top of the world! The ride is amazing and I'm glad to be on it!
Saturday night was the wedding of two returned missionaries. I think it's weird that I know married people.
Married people...
I think it's extremely weird that that is one of those things that I'm supposed to actually be thinking about for my own life to happen in the near future. Life is freaky and growing up scares me. But I know that if you stay on the ride the Lord will provide (that rhymes).
The hope this roller coaster is like the ones at Disneyland and that when I get to Heaven and step off the ride there will be a place where I can see pictures that were secretly taken at the scariest points when I was freaking out. That would be pretty neat!
Thank you everyone for all of your support. I love you all! Have a good Halloween...I'll be spending mine on a bus to Cambodia :(

Reasons to get married: Really pretty flowers.

​See ya in 16 weeks,
Sister Egelund