About sapereaudenx

flying in the middle of The City's sky

Why I like living with the Mormons

Sorry guys, I have written quite a few drafts but have been too lazy to polish my writings and post them here. Yes, laziness. I really have no other better excuses.

Anyways, here is one that I finally take the time to turn into a complete piece of writing. These are just some thoughts of Mormonism (I’m in Utah) and religions in general. Please excuse the long post. I just can’t help myself!

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As soon as I knew a private school in Sandy, Utah admitted me through the ASSIST exchange program, I typed “utah” in the search bar. Listed in one of the search suggestions was the phrase “utah mormons”, which made the least sense to me and I soon forgot about it. But when my host dad emailed me later, saying “In case you are wondering, we are not Mormons.”, he brought back the intriguing mystery. Mormonism turns out to be a religion, and Utah seems to be quite a religious state. Coming from a country where spirituality and religion are often separated, I find my background beneficial in my journey of exploring the hub of Mormonism.

Excited as I was to arrive at Salt Lake City, I wondered how I would fit in this new community. At school, almost all of my friends (even the international ones) are Mormon. In my neighborhood, everyone knows each other well as they spend a large chunk of their time together in the local church. Considering the semi-Buddhist culture that I grew up in, this is a huge change. It is hard to believe what a religious community I have now become a part of. My zero knowledge on Mormonism made me feel uncomfortable, and so I contacted the missionaries to learn more about the religion.

During the weekly meetings I indeed learn a lot about Mormonism: my vocab now includes words such as “ward”, “priesthood”, and “tabernacle”. However, throughout my conversation with the missionaries, I find myself inquire them mostly about things such as their feelings when they pray or what going to church means to them. In short, the spiritual life is what I care most about rather than the sole theology.

While spirituality is often initiated by a certain religion, I believe that it is still possible to be spiritual without being religious. Although Vietnam can be seen as an atheist nation, we are by no mean unspiritual. We worship our ancestors and go to the pagoda monthly, even though more than eighty percent of the population do not have a religion. I do not have a religion myself, but I also visit the pagoda often to meditate and to pray to an anonymous God, who has gradually become an important part of my spiritual life.

The influence of spirituality on our everyday activities cannot be underestimated; in fact, it has the most power to make positive changes in our life. My interest for spirituality developed since I was a little girl, and my first exposure was through Roman Catholicism rather than Buddhism. My aunt, who lives in the U.S, visited my family and brought with her some Catholic magazines. I can still recall vividly how a beautiful picture of Mother Maria hypnotized me. The image touched my juvenile soul, and I have been keeping the picture ever since. Just like the transcendental feeling that nature often brings, the simple peacefulness and grace the painting evokes empower and motivate me. Gradually, I start to have faith in the power of spirituality to enrich our lives.

What I have observed in the Utahn Mormons further enhances the possibility to be spiritual as well as gain spiritual insights in a non-religious way. I sometimes join the local church’s activities or my neighbors’ family in worshiping, and I imagine such meetings to be full of discussion on religious theology which will likely alienate me. Indeed, such discussion contributes a large part in all these events; nevertheless, I am always able to find sympathy and understanding when people start to share their life experiences based on the scripture insights that they discuss earlier.

For example, I once attended a talk given by a newly-returned missionary from Tanzania who climbed mount Kilimanjaro and encountered people from all walks of life. The young missionary’s reflection of his journey enriched my experience as a Vietnamese exchange student in Salt Lake City. Indeed, he contributed more than just theological knowledge when he spoke about his struggle with Swahili or how he dealt with homesickness and cultural differences. “Great insights,” he said, his eyes filled with passion, “do not come only from sacred documents, but also from this eye-opening experience that I have been so blessed to be a part of.” He brought spiritual inspiration as he spoke, even to a non-Mormon like myself.

We tend to associate spirituality with religion, and as a result we often restrict ourselves from both acquiring and sharing our spiritual insights with people from other systems of belief. Nevertheless, anything related to spirituality should not be about being different or similar, right or wrong. I find Mormon doctrines greatly different from those of Buddhist and Catholic that I’m more familiar with; however, the differences cannot prevent me from enriching my spiritual life: they add more meanings to it.

Xuan – The Waterford School, Sandy, UT

Four days at Disneyland

Hi guys I’m sorry it has been so long since I last updated! School is driving me crazehhh (in a good way, though)

Well, we had a long weekend last week so my host family took me to Disneyland in CA with them! It was one of the best vacations that I’ve ever had, partly because it was my first experience with Disneyland. I tried almost all the ride, except the roller coaster; hmmm…how should I put this…

I will never be able to ride the roller coaster, okay?

Anyways, here are some pictures, (they don’t capture even just half of the actual fun though)

– the view from my hotel room:

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– Radiator springs!

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– My host sister and me at the “Casting Agency” :’)
I have more pictures, but I’m losing patience with the dreary uploading process! Sorry guys, that’s all for now.. but I will write more about my school later ^_^

Have fun!

 

 

“Time comes slowly, time goes fast…”

“Time will come, time will go

Time shall reap, that time has sown

Time comes slowly, time goes fast

Time will linger, time outlasts

Time sees all, time knows best

Time remembers, time never forgets

Time will hide, time will reveal

Time will open, time will seal

Time brings hope, time brings fear

Time brings distance, time draws near

Time will help, time will hinder

Time will shine, time turns to cinder

We forget about time, yet it’s all we would know

In time, there is everything, and time will show.”

Nate Hawk

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Slowly but also quickly passed the four-day-orientation in Pomfret.

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“Time comes slowly…”

Time came slowly when we waited for others to arrive and decided to take a walk in the middle of the lovely forest that seemed to stretch into eternity.

Time came slowly when thirteen-hour difference between Hanoi and Pomfret tired me to the point of insomnia.

But time seemed to stop when scholars of twenty-two countries held hands and danced their heart out at the Tradition of Our Culture night. Students from all over the globe, each has their own background and belief, yet at that moment and forever on, all shared the same passion, the same love and the same yearning for a bright future. Hands held hands. Hearts beat the same heartbeat. The feeling was so overwhelming and heartwarming that it went straight into my heart and there it will continue to stay forever…

“time goes fast…”

Time went fast inside the car that took the very first arrived scholars from the airport to the beautiful Pomfret school.

Time went fast when we joyfully and vigorously ran back and forth between school buildings in order to be on time.

But time raced when we spent our last night at Pomfret. Although we all had to get up early the next morning for departure, we tried to stay up longer to talk even just a little more with our friends whom we might not be able to see in years. The fun we had seemed to call upon the sun, and so the morning came when there were still so many things to say and so many feelings to share…

Time goes by, my heart stays.

The Night Before…

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. – Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning

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I have a habit of keeping a dayrunner. Last night, as I absently flicked through some pages on which I will record the upcoming stories, a desperate whim to know what I would write next swept over me. To my distress, however, the pages appeared before me as white and empty as the vacuity in my mind. Oddly enough, that feeling was vague but also firm since I could clearly sense my worry, but what exactly had troubled me seemed as ambiguous as the color white of the paper. I knew not what to expect.

I still wonder if I’m ready to leave Vietnam, where everything goes smoothly and happily, to move to a far away land and start over again with new school, new friends and new family. What subjects should I take? What if I can’t find friends? Will I get along well with my host family? And most importantly, what exactly am I looking for in America?

But then again, maybe I don’t have to answer such questions before I finish packing up my stuff and catch my flight. Let the experience I’m going to have answer them because none can foretell the future. Besides, why try too hard to follow a definite pattern insipidly when we can always gain more in life by being flexible?

“Do you know why people say life is interesting? It indeed is, because it’s hard to guess: you can never tell for sure what is awaiting you ahead.”

My favorite movie quote popped into my head as I was sitting at my desk yesterday, pondering and worrying over my upcoming journey. The saying had woken me up. “Indeed!”, I thought, “that’s the way things go. We strive, we risk, we know nothing but little of the future, still there is no need to worry.”

Anxiety will ruin all the fun. How about enjoying the mysterious and intriguing life instead?

– Xuan