"A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." Joseph Smith

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas in Ho Chi Minh City

Our Christmas celebrations in Ho Chi Minh City included celebrating Christmas Eve with a houseful of young adults from church, as well as our daughter Kristi who is here visiting from BYU-Idaho. We made sugar cookies, sang Christmas carols, and read the story of the birth of Christ from the scriptures. These young adults, all converts or not-yet-members of our church, are learning new traditions of Christmas as they join in fellowship together.

Making sugar cookies!

Our beautiful daughter Kristi!!!

On Christmas morning, we celebrated the birth of Christ with at church. The chapel was full to overflowing. What a sacred way to commemorate His sacred birth with the emblems of the sacrament and the opportunity to remember Him, remember our covenants of faith, and remember His supreme Atonement. We are grateful for His gift of immortality and eternal life, made possible all by His humble birth in a lowly stable.

Following church, we had the missionaries from our district over for Christmas dinner.

Skype family time!!!

 Sharing of gifts - ties, of course!

Then on Monday, December 24th, we took all the missionaries from our zone out on an excursion to Cần Giờ, or Monkey Island, with our amazing tour guide! Thank you to our mission president for this memorable opportunity.

 Yikes - they are getting aggressive!

 Monkeys everywhere!

We were surrounded by mangrove trees with their 
amazing root structures...

 Salt water crocodiles lurking in the muddy waters...

 Then a trip deeper into the jungle via speed boat...


 And a brief tour of the local fishing village. 

The Pacific Ocean!

The sister missionaries stopped to chat with some local residents 
down by the water's edge.

One of our sister missionaries - celebrating life!

Now it's back to work for all of us - which is why we are here - to serve the good people of Vietnam in any way we can.  What gratitude we feel to our Savior for His Gospel that we share, and for the privilege of bringing His message to those who have not heard of Him before. Merry Christmas to all from Ho Chi Minh City!  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Why I Can't Say "I Love You"

Learning the language here is daunting.  I can't even say something as simple as, "I love you."  Here's why it's a challenge....

So the word for "love" in Vietnamese is "yêu".  That doesn't change.  But the "I" and the "you" change all the time in a constant flow of relationship exchange and community spirit of familial understanding. (confused yet??)

To try to say "I love you", I might say "em yêu anh" (I love you) if I was talking to Greg but if I was talking to my grandmother I would be a cháu not an em and she would be a bà not an anh. So "I love you" would be "Cháu yêu bà".  Of course I might want to say that to my grandchildren, at which I'd be the bà and they would be the cháu. So this time "I love You" would look like: Bà yêu cháu.   So at any given point in time for any kind of conversation,  I might be a chị or a cô or a bà or a cháu, (sister, older aunt, grandparent, or grandchild) and I might be speaking to an em, or a cháu or a con or an ông (sister, grandchild, child or a grandfather)! And since everyone here feels related to each other, everyone uses family terms, even if there is no relation.  It's the polite thing to do!

I haven't memorized this chart yet.....a list of all the possible pronouns....
TermReciprocalLiteral meaningNon-kinship usageNote
chaconfathera priestMany other terms are used, depending on the dialect: babốtíathầy
mẹconmothermẹ is the Northern form,  is used in the South. Many other terms are used, depending on the dialect: ubầmmạ
anhemolder brotheran older man of the same generation; the man in a romantic relationship; a man (formal use)Can be used to address any male regardless of status. e.g. By military personnel to those of lower ranks.
chịemolder sisteran older woman of the same generation; a woman (formal use)
emanh or chịyounger siblinga younger person of the same generation; a child; the woman in a romantic relationship
concha, mẹ, bà, etc.biological child or grandchilda young child; a person at least one generation younger
cháuông, bà, bác, chú, etc.grandchild; niece; nephew; cousin of junior generationsa young child; a person at least one generation younger
ôngcháu or congrandfathera middle-aged manpaternal and maternal grandfathers are differentiated as ông nội (paternal grandfather) and ông ngoại (maternal grandfather), respectively
cháu or congrandmothera middle-aged (married) womanpaternal and maternal grandmothers are differentiated as bà nội (paternal grandmother) and bà ngoại (maternal grandmother), respectively
cháufather's sistera female teacher, an older woman as old as one's father, a young (usually unmarried) woman (formal)in some dialects, literal meaning is restricted to father's younger sister
chúcháufather's younger brotheran older man as old as one's father, a slightly younger man (formal)in some dialects, literal meaning is restricted to father's younger brother
thímcháuchú's wife
báccháua parent's older sibling; his/her spousea person older than one's parentsin some dialects, can also refer to father's elder brother or sister as well as mother's elder brother or sister
cháumother's sister, stepmothera woman as old as one's mother,in some dialects, literal meaning is restricted to mother's younger sister
cậucháumother's brothera man as old as one's mother, a close friend (Northern variety)in some dialects, literal meaning is restricted to mother's younger brother
mợcháucậu's wifein some dialects, used by the husband to refer to his wife, children to refer to mother, or parents-in-law to refer to a daughter-in-law
dượngcháuthe husband of  or , stepfather
cụ/cốcháugreat-grandparenta very old person
họclantheythird person plural for a group of people
So before I launch into saying anything, I have to evaluate who it is I am, in relation to the person to whom I am attempting to share my feelings, and then evaluate who THEY are in relation to my position in the family or age or relationship tree.  By the time I have it figured out, the moment has passed and I end up all tongued-tied and mind-blank from a dizzying array of options.

It's just downright exhausting!

Fortunately, a smile and a "Xin Chào" (hello) seem to work for nearly everyone - and we end up with lots of happy faces in spite of our communicative limitations!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Saigon Zoo

Welcome to the Saigon Zoo!  Today we took a half day off from our missionary labors to enjoy some nature in our "backyard", - well - a short bus ride from our apartment at least. It was even more fun because we went with a couple of church members from our branch.  It was a pleasant break from the hub bub of a busy city life.

The multiple reptile enclosures housed pythons - lots of pythons.  Pythons in every enclosure practically.  With a few iguanas and a water monitor.  And more pythons!

 Do iguanas have lips??? This one does!

The zoo includes activities for children with these rooster-swan boats, a carnival, and water balls with an oversized rubber ducky. A magic show was in process as we walked by, applauded by crowds of children in school uniforms. 

Who wouldn't want to feed the hungry penguins???  


It was a day for lots of parents and grandparents with the little children - the place was teeming with adorable little ones!

The children's petting zoo is always a big hit! Snack time from behind the fence...

 ...or inside the fence!  

The teeniest goat there... just a baby!

 The deer knew just how to beg with their lovely eyes and ears - this doe waits for another vegetable snack offering from the crowds.

 The wildebeest are a strange looking lot...

The life of the wild in the city... large apartment buildings look down on the small African habitats with their precious wildlife.  

They had at least three white Bengal tigers, as well as some orange Bengal tigers. Such beautiful animals!

I came to the Saigon zoo several times when I lived here as a little girl. It was a pleasant trip to come here again and see how the zoo has grown and improved. Lots of improvements still needed - yes. But it has come a long ways and will continue to improve as resources become available.  It is always a joy to see God's lovely creations. 

"And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good."  Genesis 1:26