Monday, January 26, 2015

The Awkward Parable of the Library

January 18, 2015

For the next few weeks until I finish my mission I'm going to count how many people ask me if I'm "trunky".
There's a simple answer to that question - "NO!"

The past seventeen months have not been what I wanted at all. I wanted to go to a new country, learn a new language. I wanted to baptize a million people and get really skinny because I rode a bike all over Vietnam. I wanted to take some cool pictures that I could put on Facebook when I got home that would impress everyone. I wanted to write cute letters to all of my friends that had stickers and smelled like my perfume. I wanted to be the "mission legend" that can contact anyone out on the streets. I wanted a lot of things. A whole lot of selfish things that don't matter.

I didn't really get anything that I wanted, but I gained so many blessings from Heavenly Father. And I wouldn't trade any of them for the world. 

Does reading my emails seem like I've been sad through my whole mission? Well, I won't tell you that the past year and a half has been all smiles and hugs. It's been tough! I've spent so much time feeling like the Lord is turning my world upside down. I know that each trial brought a blessing though.

I imagine it like this: My life was similar to a large library full of books. Not just an ordinary library either. This library was massive. The shelves were each carefully carved from fine wood. There were large windows that had comfortable chairs set right in front of them so I could read with the natural sunlight coming in. And conveniently in the corner there was a bean bag chair I could take cat naps in. 

The books were awesome too! Each book was based on experiences I've had, things I've studied, examples I've learned from, my personal interests, and many other things that make me who I am. The library was completely full of books from the ceiling to the floor. The library even included one of those cool ladders that slides around the walls!

Each time I had a spiritual experience, or learned something new from the scriptures was like buying a new book. The only problem is that the shelves were full and I had no space to place any of my new books. 

What was I to do? It will be too cluttered if I just make stacks on the floor. Doing that I would never be able to enjoy the library. Maybe I could download the ebook and put it on my iPhone? I don't like doing that though because I'm afraid they'll accidentally be deleted. Could I just ask my friend to read the book and give me a summary once they're finished? What good would that do me though. How could I add books to the library when it was already full?

I decided that to make room for the new books, I had to get rid of a lot of the old ones. You know, those books that just sit around and collect dust? The ones you buy because everyone else is reading them, or because they have a nice cover that would look pretty on the shelf. I had lots of books like that.

It required a heavy dose of courage, but I decided to just throw all of them away. Every single one of them! Even the ones that had cost a lot of money and the ones that had been passed down from family. I just threw them all into a dumpster. Taking each book off of the shelf I could look at it and immediately remember what it was about. I could remember how I got the book. I could easily recall how fun and exciting it was to read through the pages. And I could clearly remember how accomplished I felt as I finished each story. It was sad to toss each book off the shelf, but I had to do it to make room for the new books. Besides, all the old books would never even be read again. I already knew the story, why would I read it again when there are so many other new books I can read?

The trials of my mission have been like standing in this large, empty library. I looked around at empty shelves feeling sad that I didn't have anything. The room just didn't seem as beautiful without all of those colorful books lining the shelves. But I also looked around with so much hope knowing that I could start over and fill the shelves again.

I didn't want to part with my old books. Those books represent my habits, my opinions, my personality, my strengths, my flaws, and all the things that make me Emily. I knew I didn't need them though. Who I was was not who the Lord wants me to be. If I had been satisfied with all of those books, I would never reach my potential. 

Like the library that once seemed great, but then became nothing, I had once thought I was good enough, but realized that I needed to start all over again. 

I've thrown away all of my books. And the only way that that has been possible is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I'm happy to say that my library is filling up again. Each day as I work, I buy a new book. And each day as I repent, I toss out a book that didn't have any meaning. 

I'm still trying to get things figured out. Sometimes I am sad. That's normal. Sometimes I feel on top of the world. Of course, I'm a missionary!

I didn't get what I wanted from my mission, but I'm trying to accept what the Lord wants me to receive. 

The gospel is exactly what you and I need! Never let it go. 

With love, 
Sister Egelund

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls...

January 11, 2015

Don't go chasing waterfalls. I don't even know what that means. Good song though if you ask me.

So right before New Year's President Moon spent a lot of time teaching us to make goals that will help us progress individually and as a mission. Goals that are S.M.A.R.T. - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. I have seen that the mission field is a place where goals are achieved and dreams come true. For example, I have had a dream of becoming the first "office sister" of the mission. I tell people about it all the time and they think that I'm a lunatic because sisters never work in the office and it wouldn't be practical. But I've spent a majority of my life proving people wrong, and I did just that this past week. For three days I was in Cambam for MLC with President Moon and to renew my visa and in most of the time that I wasn't out teaching with the other sisters or in meetings I worked in the office and helped out the elders with their mountain of work. Three days of working in the office was enough for me! Those elders have a million things to do. No wonder they all get fat and lose their hair while in that tiny office. Haha Shout out to Elder Duffy and Elder Tan! BUT, I did it! I made my dream come true of working in the mission office.

That is all I want to say this week. My time is quickly coming to an end. I think I have four more p-days. Meaning that in the next couple weeks more people are going to start emailing me saying they're "so excited for me to come home" so that it seems like they missed me while I was gone. #Content I'm looking forward to going into coma for a few months when I'm back. 

Remember what I say - Dreams come true...when you make them a goal and do all in your power to work towards them.

Jesus said love everyone.

Love, Sister Egelund Trinh Ly

BTW, I'm thinking of changing my name to Emily Trinh Marie Egelund. Yeah? K cool.

See ya.

Oh and happy birthday to my stud of a brother, Eric Trinh Egelund - the future Anh Cả Trịnh! You're cool and I like you. You're jokes are a 10 and so are your muscles. With love, Chị 2.

We've realized that we're totally opposite but completely the same. You can say "we found love in a hopeless place."

Happy early Valentines day. I love you more than chocolate.

Vietnam Moving Forward...

January 5, 2015

They say that if you begin your mission happy you will finish miserable or vise versa. I've proved that to be wrong so far though. I was really happy at the beginning of this adventure, and now in my last transfer I'm still feeling good!

We're in Cambodia right now and I don't have much time to write but let me just tell you about the very best thing that's happened in a while - 

This week President Moon announced that we are now allowed to teach in the homes of investigators if the owner of the home gives us permission! Things are gettttting nuuuuuuts! Before we had to teach at the homes of members or teach people at the church. Both of those being fairly inconvenient for those that want to learn. But now we can just go to their house and teach them! We're almost like normal missionaries! The only thing that we have left to do is get permission to wear our name tags outside!

I'm so stoked to see what the future holds for the Church and its members here in Vietnam! Sister Trinh Ly will be peacing out in just one transfer, but hopefully that kid I call brother will someday get to serve here as Elder Trinh!

Sorry for the short email but please know that I love you and I think most of you are pretty cool.

Stay righteous,
Sister Trinh Ly

You're NOT Amazing Just The Way You Are....

December 28, 2014

Random thought for the week:
You can conveniently visit a temple prep class in your ward, or attend a mission prep class at your local institute building, but the best marriage prep comes through the sacrifice of serving a full-time mission for 18 months - 2 years.  

All of us sisters serving in HCMC are on the final leg of our missions; consequently, the topic of marriage comes up a lot, like a lot a lot. I mean, you go on a mission and then you're expected to go home and get married in the temple. It makes sense, you spend a chunk of your life telling people all about the Plan of Salvation and eternal families, obviously you want that for yourself. 

I don't really know what to say about all of this. Marriage is scary. I can't even deal with a companion for over two transfers. What I do know though is that going on a mission has changed my entire life. I think back at who I was before and who I am now and I can't believe it. I barely resemble the person I was before this. For a long time I wanted to go home and go back to my normal life. Now, I think of everything that's waiting for me back at home, and I don't want any of that anymore. That's a really scary thing. All of the things that I've had my entire life, all of the things I've tried so hard to get, I don't really want them anymore. All of the times I tried to "be cool", I don't even know what the heck it means to be cool anymore!

Last week I had a conversation with an elder about the changes we've seen in ourselves while serving. This elder and I are probably the two most stubborn, hard headed, and straight forward missionaries around here. Seventeen months ago I thought it was funny that I'm a jerk. Like Beyonce said, "A diva is a female version of a hustler." Haha.

Some crazy stuff has been happening though, and I actually feel bad when I do something mean. Weird, right? Emily Egelund actually feels bad about being sarcastic. 

How many times have I done something that other people don't like and I only replied "that's just who I am." I  know that I say it all the time, and I know that almost every single one of you say it too! 

This is who I am, but it's not who the Lord wants me to be.

Jesus Christ did not die for us so that we can say "this is who I am and I'm not going to change." The Atonement is here for each of us to become - become someone better.

That's all I have to say for today. Remember, you are who you are, but that's not who you should be. The Lord has a greater plan for each of us and as we choose to change we will see more clearly the person he wants us to become. 

Keep it real. Learn the gospel and live it. 

With love, 
Sister Egelund

Here's a lot of pictures:

The parents of the American missionaries put together these awesome gifts for the local missionaries in Vietnam and Cambodia. Thank you so much to everyone that donated and helped to make this an awesome Christmas!

Duy finally got baptized!!


I'll Take Care of You

December 14, 2014

I spent a lot of this week being angry. I was angry at the elders, angry at my companion, angry at people at home, angry at people in the branch, basically just angry at everything. I'm in charge of a lot of the planning for this weeks Christmas open house and there is a lot that needs to be done with not a lot of time and not many resources. Plus, the zone leader and district leader were over in Cambodia the past week, so all of our planning and organization was thrown out the window. 

The stress has been hitting me full force and I've been exhausted. One thing that I've realized about myself while I've been serving is that I think about quitting all of the time. There have been numerous times that I've wanted to just walk out of lessons with frustrating investigators, or just get in a taxi and leave when my companion does something that annoys me. Yes, these are real things that go though my head. I always want to quit and it's a huge problem of mine! But since the time I had to go home to go to the doctor until now, each day I understand more and more just how precious this time to serve is!

We have been teaching a lot of members an older talk from Elder Nelson entitled 'Ask the Missionaries! They Can Help You!'. In the talk Elder Nelson says, "Missionaries in their late teens or early 20's are young in ways of the world. But they are blessed with gifts—such as the power of the Holy Spirit, the love of God, and testimonies of the truth—that make them powerful ambassadors of the Lord. They share the good news of the gospel that will bring true joy and everlasting happiness to all who heed their message. And in many instances they do so in a country and a language foreign to them." He then goes on to say only a few of the numerous ways that missionaries can help non-members and those that are already members of the church; including, family history work, conquering an addiction, being healthier, finding direction or purpose in life, how to strengthen a marriage and family, understanding of the Book of Mormon and The Bible, providing relief to victims of disaster, or "about life after death, about heaven, [and] about God's plan for you." 

"Ask the missionaries! They can help you!"

I along with the other 88,000 missionaries want to help you with anything you need! We are all ready! So please, give us the opportunity to serve you!

I remember my friend Aisha telling me a story of when she was living in Provo and the elders would always come to her apartment and ask if she needed help with anything. What would be the response these elders would receive from you? "No, it's okay, I'm good." I know that's what I probably would have said. Well, that's not what my best friend Aisha did! She let the elders take the garbage from her kitchen out to the dumpster!
The first time I heard this story I thought it was hilarious! Thinking about it again, I though that it was a little mean to make the missionaries to such a stupid job. Thinking about it now, Aisha was right, She gave the missionaries a chance to serve!

Was Aisha capable of taking out the garbage herself? I bet she was! But whether it was intentional or not, she followed the counsel of Elder Nelson to "ask the missionaries!"

I often hear members of the church say, "Oh I don't need any help, and you're already busy teaching investigators. People! us missionaries, believe it or not, we're not celebrities! We don't have a crowd of people waiting outside our home waiting to be taught. We have time to serve you! I didn't read anywhere in my call letter something that says "you are hereby called to serve only non-members and inactives." I alone with all the other missionaries are here to serve everyone, and that includes you!

Elder Nelson also says, ". . . young missionaries set aside their education, occupation, dating, and whatever else young adults would typically be doing at this stage of life. For 18 to 24 months they put it all on hold because of their deep desire to serve the Lord. . . . The decision to serve a mission will shape the spiritual destiny of the missionary, his or her spouse, and their posterity for generations to come. A desire to serve is a natural outcome of one’s conversion, worthiness, and preparation."

I didn't leave my home and my family to go one a mission because it sounded like a fun little sabbatical. I came to serve! That's why all of us go - to serve. So now I have a commitment for all of you: find one thing for the missionaries to do to help you before January 1, 2o15.  No matter how small, smaller, large or huge the service you need is, we're here to help you!

I want to end by quoting a talk by Elder S. Gifford Nielsen in general conference October 2014. Elder Nielsen said, "pray for the missionaries serving in your area and their investigators by name every day. The only way to do this is to greet them, look at their badge, call them by name, and ask them who they are teaching. Elder Russell M. Nelson wisely contributed, 'Until you know a person’s name and face, the Lord cannot help you know his or her heart.'

This missionary work thing, it's a team effort. You help me, I help you, we're a great big family, with a great big hug and yada yada yada... The point is, you can help me by letting me help you! Really, this is a win win situation for both parties involved. 

Stay righteous. Do the Lord's work. Remember the commitment that I just gave you (I will be following up and ya'll better do it!). Keep it real!

-Sister Egelund

No emailing next week because we're skyping home! #TTYL

I didn't take any pictures this week, so here's an old one of me getting fat.