Elder's Nguyen's Favorite Scripture

"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

"The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

"Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever."

- D&C 122:7-9

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Email - Dated Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hi everyone!

I'm doing fine here.  The illnesses that have been plaguing our district are finally gone, everyone's healthy again.  I don't think it will last though, as flu season has begun, so it's only a matter of time before someone else gets sick and starts the entire episode all over again.

The language is still difficult, but I'm managing.  I still don't understand much, but that's OK because my companion understands the language really well and is able to translate for me.  It's kind of funny because he can't really speak the language well, so I help him to translate stuff from English to Vietnamese.

Teaching our "investigators" is going just fine (they're really just our teachers playing the part of the investigators).  Unlike (most) real investigators, they understand English so if we make a mistake they're able to help us to speak properly.  We got one of our investigators committed to baptism last week.  The other one we just started teaching last week so we're still trying to teach the doctrine in a way that she will understand.

A.J.'s last Pack Meeting is this week?  And he's receiving his Webelos?  Remind me, does that mean I'm the only one who got the Arrow of Light? (I don't remember if Michael did.)  If so, I hope that it won't be the same way for the Eagle Scout award.  Hopefully Michael and A.J. will get it.  Michael might be able to get it before I get back (in fact he probably will if he does get it.  If he hasn't got it by then I may be a little disappointed).

So to confirm, Michael doesn't have an early class at school, he's just going to early seminary.  He might want to change that if he can, as it will be easier to get out of school at the end of the day and he's up early anyway.  Just saying.

Good luck with school, work, or whatever you're doing!

Elder Nguyen

Monday, September 24, 2012

Letter - Postmarked September 19, 2012

Dear everyone,

Week 6 is afoot!  Time is going by quickly (for now).  I'm told that it begins to slow down.  But hopefully that won't be for a long time.  Meaning the week before I return.

Michael is going to early Seminary, right?  Did he switch to a first-period class then?  And is he getting out early too?  Or did he only switch Seminary?

How is school going for everyone?  Has the workload grown to the point where everyone is busy all the time yet?

How is Vietnamese going for everyone?  Is everyone using the Rosetta Stone software or are Mom and Dad the only ones who are learning the language?  I hope you are all learning the language, because I might just be sending home letters in Vietnamese once my knowledge of the language is sound.

You know, I've been wondering.  Could you send me some musical arrangements (church music) so me and my district can maybe sing at one of the devotionals?  Some requests I have are: I Heard Him Come, the arrangement of How Firm a Foundation you did with Brother Stewart, and Lead, Kindly Light.  Thanks!

Elder Nguyen

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Email - Dated Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hello everyone!

I'm doing well.  Everyone is improving in Vietnamese, though we often have to look back a few weeks to see it.  We're still having trouble understanding people speak in Vietnamese, because somehow, everyone who speaks to us in Vietnamese seems to be speaking faster than anyone has ever talked to us in English (including how quickly I speak a lot of the time).  But besides that, the language is going well.

Time has gone by quickly when I look back and see that I'm now on Week 6 according to the MTC schedule.  Looking forward on the other hand, sometimes I feel like I'm never going to be finished here.   There's about six more weeks here, and then two more days before I leave.  Right now that seems a long, long way away even though you're probably going to feel as if it's passing quickly.

Everyone's working hard here.  There's so much to do that we're all really happy when lunch and dinner come around.  Not because the food's any good (because it usually isn't that good) but because we finally get a break from being in class or teaching or whatever we're doing that day.

We're all especially happy on Sundays and Tuesdays, because there's no (MTC) classes at all.  I think that most of the missionaries here didn't really like Sundays before we came here, but now we really appreciate Sunday.


Elder Nguyen

Monday, September 17, 2012

Letter - Postmarked September 13, 2012

Dear everyone,

I forgot to say a lot of stuff in my last letter, so I'm writing this one.

First, is Taylor going to be speaking English or Spanish?  Because 2 of my friends, Elder (Tanner) Nelson and Elder (Jeremy) Zoolakis are going to Arizona, Tempe speaking Spanish.

Second, if you're confused about the wax freezer paper, I don't know if it's wax paper or just freezer paper, so could you send both?

Third, could you send me a few Shel Silverstein poems?  We all really like his poetry.

Fourth, Anh Ca is the Vietnamese way of saying "Elder."  It is literally translated as "Elder Brother."

Finally, I may be sending a package home soon.  Maybe.

Elder Nguyen

Friday, September 14, 2012

Letter Postmarked Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dear everyone,

How goes the schooling?  Michael is in his sophomore year (read: difficult year) so he's probably really busy.  A.J.'s still in elementary school, so he's probably busy too.

Everyone here is doing fine.  Elder Lichtenburg was made the district leader, and Elders Guy and Anderson were made the zone leaders. 

We're all doing slightly better at Vietnamese, but it's not exactly easy.  We're all always waiting for the day to be over so we can get some sleep.

As of this week, I am going to give one quote from the choir director in each letter.  This week's quote is "It's not about you!  It's about us!  And if any of you disturb that unity, shame be on you!"

By the way, I was wondering if anyone wrote anything from me being set apart as a missionary.  If so, could you send me a copy?

There's a lot more that I want to say, but I can't remember any of it.  So I'll leave it here.

Elder Nguyen

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Email dated Tuesday, September 11, with Pictures!

Hello everyone!  How are things back home?  Everyone's busy with school in some way, right?  Who has the most work to do?  I bet that Michael, not A.J. is going to end up with the most homework later in the year. 

Everything's fine here.  I've bought a bunch of note cards and stuff to help me learn Vietnamese.  It's working O.K, I'm now actually able to teach a simple lesson about prayer without notes.  Unfortunately, I can't share it here because I can't type tones on this computer.  Sorry.

Also, to Michael, though it doesn't really matter who reads this.  Just hi?  Wow.  Tell Mr. Williamson, Mr. Kulish, and Mr. Goar that I said hi!  And say it in Vietnamese.  That is, Anh Ca Nguyen noi Xin Chao! (Pronunciation, An Ka Nguyen noi (upward accent) Sin Chao)  Translate for them if they don't understand.  They probably won't.

To A.J., I think that's a chess game is a good idea.  Next time I send a letter, I'll send an extra sheet with my first move in chess notation.  We can use that to play a quick game.  (But I'll probably win.  Just saying.)

I'm sending you some pictures with this letter.  The first picture would be me and my companion, Elder Neil.  The next two are my district at the Temple.  The last two are pictures of a Sunday where we all got back from church and most of the district collapsed and fell asleep on the floor (except for me and Elder Guy, who took the pictures) in the classroom where we meet after church.

We invented a new game here.  It's called Trashketball.  You hang one of those rectangular trash cans from the ledge on a blackboard (the one you put the chalk and erasers on), ball up some pieces of paper, and remove the bag.  Then you sit at a desk at the back of the room and shoot the balls of paper at the basket.  If the ball goes in, you get a point.  If it hits the blackboard first, you get an extra point.  Once everyone has made three shots, you have a rock-paper-scissors tournament.  The winner gets three extra shots.  Then it repeats.  First to have at least twenty points, and be winning by at least two points, is declared the winner.

Did you see President Monson's 85th birthday celebration?  If not, you really should.  It's on LDS.org under broadcasts, then special broadcasts.

I actually do need some stamps.  We run through them pretty quick here.  I also have a strange sort of request.  You see, I've realized that having just solid colored T-shirts is really boring.  And someone here taught me how to make some coloration alterations using diluted bleach.  I can get most of the required stuff here, but there is one thing that I can't get.  I need about two arm's lengths of wax freezer paper so I can make designs and stuff (it blocks the bleach).  Do you think you could send me some?  If you can't send me some, that's OK.  I'll buy some when I get to the mission field or something.  You can usually get that kind of stuff at the American grocery stores that my companion assures me are in Cambodia/Vietnam.  Thanks in advance.

You should probably reply via DearElder, or snail mail, as I can only use E-mail on Tuesdays, but I can read letters any old time.


Elder Nguyen

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Letter postmarked September 4, 2012

Dear everyone,

How are things back home?  Everyone's back to school, right?  Everyone except Dad, and he's teaching so technically he's going back in a way.

Everything is find here.  We're all laughing when anyone makes a major mistake with the language.  It happens quite a lot, especially while we are trying to practice teaching.

We've got an investigator of sorts to teach.  He has a lot of questions that we can't answer in Vietnamese yet. 

I've started eating at the temple cafeteria.  It's far better than the MTC cafeteria.  Unfortunately, we can only go on P-day.

Enjoy school everyone!

Elder Nguyen

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

MTC Days - Email dated Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hi everyone,

At the MTC, Labor Day means that the mail room and the bookstore are both closed.  So no mail has arrived yet (as of Tuesday morning).

I'm pretty much over my cold now.  I haven't thought about it for nearly a week now, except that other missionaries have gotten sick and are blaming me for them getting sick.  I can't really say much to them, because it's probably true.

I pass the time by being in class mostly.  That and meals takes up a lot of the day.  The rest is taken up by gym and studying (so basically more class).

No one here learned Vietnamese before they came here.  At least, not formal Vietnamese.  Elder Neil learned a bit of Vietnamese in a country dialect, but not very much, and it's basically useless here as we have to speak formally.

Still waiting on the package.  If it hadn't arrived yet yesterday, I probably won't get it until tonight.

Vietnamese is going a little better.  I'm learning some about grammar and I'm learning new vocabulary, but I'm still having trouble remembering long phrases.  It's also a bit difficult to string words together in an understandable manner without making some mistake.

Fridge fest actually sounds better than the food that we've been getting here.  At least fridge fest isn't repetitive, because you have different meals every week (I assume).

So yeah, that's pretty much all of the news here.

How is everyone doing?  Hanging in there?  I sincerely hope that Michael is, because sophomore year will only get worse as the year goes by.

Just kidding.  It doesn't get that much worse except in Honors Pre-Calculus.  But seriously if he is having trouble now he is going to have a lot of trouble later in the year.

So did you end up packing up my stuff or did you just leave it where it is (besides the game systems).  After all my stuff is mostly in unobtrusive places.  I don't really mind whether or not my stuff has been packed up (again, except for the game systems.).

So this is A.J.'s last year of elementary school.  Wow.  I always thought of him as the "baby" of the family, but I guess he's growing up too.

Elder Nguyen