Monday, October 2, 2017

Dragons, Incense, and Eternal Peace

A recent Senior Missionary Conference held in the central city of Huế  (pronounced like "hway") gave us ample time to observe the many ancient symbols and traditions that grace this land. We discovered that we share much in the symbolic nurturings of Huế.  Particularly, we share a common yearning for peace in this life and immortality in the world to come.

The dragon has long been a highly recognizable icon of Asian culture.  Unlike the dangerous fire-breathing dragons of European lore, Asian dragons have inspirative symbolic meaning and purpose. In spite of their fierce appearance, Vietnamese dragons are greatly loved.
For one thing, in Vietnam the dragon is a symbol of life-giving rain. With rice being the mainstay of the everyday diet, rain is the lifeblood of the people and essential to the endless rice fields throughout the countryside.

Dragons protect mortals from evil spirits and unfortunate mishaps. Here dragons protect water travelers along the Perfume River.

Dragon-laden boats along the Perfume River

Those lucky enough to have a pair of dragons by the gate are protected from evil spirits throughout the generations to come.

In addition to providing protection, the Vietnamese dragon represents the universe, or life, and nobility. The tombs of the Nguyen emperors are heavily guarded by these royal dragons.  It makes one realize - Dragons are our friends! 

Tomb of Khai Dinh - guarded by dragons

Temple of King Tran Nhan Tong - guarded by dragons below:

The Senior Missionary Conference provided amazing training, insights, uplift and strength as we met together over several days under the direction of our mission president.

The senior missionary force in Vietnam

On the side, we had opportunities to visit some of the many historic and cultural sites in this area.

The generally quiet, peaceful city of Huế carries a charm and a nostalgia that attracts visitors from all parts of the world.

Ancient folk lore and animist traditions have left their mark. While many of the ancient beliefs of spirits and dragons and rituals are not practiced very often in the bigger cities, Huế continues to carry many such beliefs and practices.  From throwing shredded blessed paper into the Perfume River to burning incense on trees or doorways, a belief and hope of something more than just this world moves the people forward on a daily basis.

Incense in a beer can
Incense blessing a tree

Incense has long been a symbol of the prayers of the faithful ascending into heaven. So whether it be dragons or incense, or countless other symbols used in ancient Vietnamese beliefs, the yearnings and message are the same. We seek for peace in this life and immortality in the life to come.
Incense near an incense factory in Hue
Courtesy of Travel Aficianado  
Both are amply provided by Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

We all are here in Vietnam to share that 
peace in this life and immortality in the world to come are not mythical ideas of folklore, but realities offered to us - not through dragons - but through our Savior, Jesus Christ. With a continued focus on Jesus Christ, we receive daily protection with the powerful guidance of the Holy Ghost, keeping us from evil and guarding us against sin. 

We are so blessed to serve as senior missionaries in this amazing land!  Join us!  Senior missionaries are always needed, nearly everywhere.  The opportunity to share the message of Jesus Christ is abundant. What a joy it is to share the peace and protection and power that come from Jesus Christ to those who have been searching for these blessings for many generations.  
The Citadel - or the Imperial City - was the political and religious center during the Nguyen Dynasty - from 1802 - 1945.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your posts! I love getting a little glimpse into the land and experiences where my daughter Chi My now serves! What a blessing!