Friday, September 9, 2016

The Smells of Ho Chi Minh City

It was the smell that first hit me.  I remember the first time I returned to Asia, many years ago. Leaving the airport terminal, it was like an unleashed Pandora box flooding my mind with memories of the past. It was definitely the smell. 

Thing is.. It smelled so good! Like homemade bread or freshly baked chocolate chips cookies.  Strangely familiar, yet distantly mystical.

Elder Coffey eating phớ - a specialty dish in Vietnam
And so again, as we walk the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, smells from my childhood come floating in. Smells of kickball games in the school yard of the Phoenix Study Group, and climbing trees in the alley. Smells of slurping down bowls of phở from the street vendor and climbing through rolls of barbed wire in games of spy versus spy. 

Smells of 100  chả giòs made special order by our cook.

It smells like home. of Jessica and Lon Binder - chá giòs - another signature dish.
Memories of motorcycle fumes and fresh coconut stalls, red bean ice milk and open air markets.  Yes - it definitely smells like home.

There we stood, standing on the brink of our future with the floodgates of the past whiffing by us.  We could not have had a better welcome.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Elder Coffey and I in front of one of the LDS church buildings in Ho Chi Minh City. (Tân Sơn Nhất chapel)         

"Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy into this generation. Therefore thrust in your sickle with all your soul... And you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire." " D&C 31:3-5

We arrived on Monday, September 5th. Elder and Sister MacDonald, the humanitarian couple here, met us at the airport and helped get us settled in our new apartment. They were so kind.

On Wednesday we enjoyed a full day of training at the church.  Dr. Paul and Dr. McKay from BYUI were here to teach the missionaries how to improve their English teaching methods.  One of our assignments here will be to work with the missionaries on the free English classes that are taught each week.  The six Elders and two Sisters teach Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced English classes once a week at the church. They are great teachers and eager to learn new methods to improve. 

The missionary team currently in Ho Chi Minh City.  More are on their way!

Dr. Paul discusses a teaching principle while
Dr. McKay looks on.
Elder Coffey visiting with Dr. McKay

Elder Rigby, the District Leader, conducts the training meeting.

The Elders study their agenda in preparation for the evening English classes.

The Sisters prepare for Wednesday night's English class using the new methods taught that day.

They did a GREAT job!
It still is amazing to me that we have full-time missionaries in Vietnam, two chapels in Ho Chi Minh City and one in Hanoi, a mission home and office in Hanoi - and that we are actually here!  

My home where I lived in old Saigon from 1968-1972 still stands.  It is not far from our current apartment.  I'll snap a picture of it someday and post it.  

Isn't the Gospel wonderful?  To every land and people it goes - and wherever the banner of truth is unfurled, communities are bettered, homes are strengthened, and lives are blessed. Today the Sisters taught an investigator at the Church.  She says she will return for the branch activity tomorrow.  The work moves forward.  We are so blessed.

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