31 Dec 2016
Here I am still creating mission posts! Who knew an 18 month mission would evolve into a (most likely) 22 month mission??? I certainly didn't. But that's how much I know!!! So 2017 is most welcome!
Our stewardship throughout our mission along with the office responsibilities has always included the Vietnamese Branches. We have lovingly been a part of those branches from day one. We have constantly talked to them about the Manila Temple.....
and the importance of them going to the temple NOW and not waiting for the future Thailand Temple to be built.
That seems to be the natural-man thing to do to wait until a more conveniently located temple is built before you go. I believe we heard that a lot after the Calgary Temple was announced even though the Calgarians only had to drive a few hours North or South to get to a temple. These people have a 5-6 hour flight and need $800-$1000 to get to the Manila Temple one time in their lives. The Church is so compassionate that they have created the Temple Patron Assistance Fund which helps people like this all over the world to experience the temple and the saving ordinance therein. I see how much money they spend on just one little mission and this is a world-wide fund being used. I am in awe of the Church and it's organization.
In July we had the privilege of attending two weddings of some of our branch members. From left to right, David Lo and Sophie Lim , Danh (Yan) Keo, and Sovy Lim each couple, respectively, were married. Sophie and Sovy are siblings. These are some of the finest people I have ever met. All of them are returned missionaries. They all understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are the back-bone of the Vietnamese branches in Phnom Penh.
It has brought to me a few childhood memories.....
It was about April of 1961 (I was in the 1st grade), which April meant it was time for a new Easter dress. Mother and I had gone to the big city, Duncan, to go dress-shopping. We got to the dress shop. We walked in the front door and I began perusing the clothes trying to quickly discern where the Easter dresses were located. The store clerk was at the far end of the store. She and Mother began communicating from afar.
"May I help you?"
"Yes, I am looking for an Easter dress for my daughter."
I was glowing. Yes, I was going to be the worthy recipient of a new dress. This was my time. Today it was all about me! Then the clerk asked, "what size?" Right then, it seemed like the two women were as far apart as they could possibly be and Mother made her voice carry as if she were a professional opera soprano.
I wanted to die on the spot! Really, Mom? You had to add "chubby"? Good Grief! I was as round as I was tall. I'm sure the clerk had been in the business long enough to figure that one out on her own. Did you really have to announce it? I felt all eyes were on me! This is not how I saw this going down!
Elementary school was rough. This was the first year that learned that I was bigger than the rest of the kids my age. Prior to elementary school my family never made any derogatory remarks about body shapes. Although, I did recall over hearing Mother say things like "she is big boned" or "she just hasn't lost her baby fat yet". It was now all coming together and elementary school made it all too clear.
The playground was the worst. My friend, Jeanne and I seemed to joy in trying out every piece of equipment during our time out of the classroom. I dreaded heading for the SeeSaw. I had to let Jeanne get on her side first, then I hoisted myself on the other end. I sat on the ground and Jeanne looked as if she had been run up the flag pole never to come down! But I was a problem solver even at a very young age. I just put two of those skinny, little first-graders on the other end then we were all in SeeSaw Heaven! We were achieving playground excellence!
Then there was Red Rover.... I hated that game. It was the only school yard game that I was chosen first. I was like Helga, the Swedish Viking girl! No one could break through me! And very rarely did the other team ever ask me "to come over", which I was glad for. I hated the run between one line of children to the other. For some reason, it seemed like the length of a football field. I felt like I needed to stop half way and have a breather. I didn't stop, but instead of building steam with every stride, I got slower but I could still break through the skinny kids.
I had never said anything to my parents about the name calling from my piers. It was just too embarrassing... until the fourth grade. Ricky Satterfield (its sad that I still remember his name, isn't it?) called me a name and it crushed me. I guess after 4 years of it you finally crack. Mother had picked me up early from school. I must have been a bit teary-eyed because Mother asked me what was wrong. I told her the story ending with the horrible fact that Ricky called me "elephant"! Thankfully, Mother supressed her all-out laughter into a slight snicker but I saw it. I suppose it was a bit funny but not to a 10 year old girl with some self-esteem issues brewing. Mother did offer her opinion which was not necessarily words of wisdom, comfort, or solace. She merely said, "ah, those kids are mean and they don't know what they are talking about. You will grow out of this soon."
Ya, know what? Mother was right! (I hope she is listening!)
I was looking at myself with critical eyes, judgemental eyes. I was allowing others to set some sort of standard that I could never meet. Mother saw me as who I could become. She saw me with potential. She saw my capabilities. Mother (and Jeanne) could see my goodness. Mother always looked at me with her "mother-eyes" which was full of love.
This is what I have learned... That's how I now see my Vietnamese friends.... with mother-eyes. I see potential, capabilities, and goodness. I see people trying to learn the gospel. I see a people that love their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Thank you to Branches 3, 6, and 10 who have also in return looked at me with mother-eyes the day I arrived.