Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Notebooks N' Things

Several times we have visited Vietnam and have had the opportunity to travel with John and Arlene Fast in country. I found myself somewhat envious of John's laptop computer as well as his facility at using it. While WE had to find an internet establishment in order to RENT one HE could use his,seemingly, wherever he pleased. If I'm able to take my new ASUS Notebook to Vietnam when we go in May I wonder; Will I be able to do that? Probably not right away, because I still have so much to learn about using it over here! I can, however, make this a matter of prayer and solicit as much praying help as possible! God is always helping me find earrings and their little inserts that I drop while at my dresser. This request wouldn't be any harder than that for Almighty, Loving, Merciful God. After all, the PRAYER WIRELESS was successfully in use long before my little ASUS was even an idea!

Monday, March 29, 2010

What is a dogs language?

Our house in Dalat where we were studying the language was built on a hill and in addition had a flight of stairs to get to the livng area. Our fellow missionaries dropped by now and then to see how the lower "classmen" were doing. And, we had a dog. One evening the dog began to bark. I proceeded to scold the dog telling him to "shut up", "be quiet", "get out of here", etc. Finally Bob Davis who was our senior language student at the time made his way up the stairs to the front door. With his unique whit, he calmly informed me that I had been speaking to the dog in English and the dog was Vietnamese and couldn't understand me. I remember sang, "Oh, that's right." Immediately it dawned on me that the dog not likely spoke Vietnamese either. So, I concluded that dogs must have their own language which I wouldn't learn since I wasn't there to preach to dogs.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Becoming an Individual

When we first got settled in Dalat, VN to study Vietnamese and become somewhat familiar with the culture, I used to walk on Saturday mornings just to observe whatever happened along the way and of course practice a word or two if given the chance. To me the Vietnamese were just a mass of people with by and large no names or personalities. Then one Saturday on my walk, I noticed a man facing me walking on the other side of the street and I said to myself he looks like a man back in Felicity, Ohio where I had pastored before Vietnam.
From that moment each Vietnamese had a personalty in need of a personal savior. It has made a big difference in my service to the Vietnamese people in many ways.

Friday, March 26, 2010

After language study. our first mission was Nha Trang. Missionary Bill Roberson had started a little church there and served as pastor. Missionary Bob Davis followed Bill when he went on furlough. When Bob went on furlough, it fell my lot to follow him as pastor of the church. I was really green and as the Vietnamese say, "one has studied high but not wide" meaning you have an academic knowledge but not a practical one. This was made painfully aware to me as I tried to preach in Vietnamese each Sunday. In the church was the wife of a former Christian and Missionary Alliance Vietnamese pastor. Each Sunday she would tell me, "Missionary you preached well this morning ------". Now in Vietnamese there are several words which mean "but". One is ma with a falling tone and isn't very strong by itself. Another word is nhung which is a little stronger. Now if you put the two together you get "nhung ma" which is really strong. Now this precious lady when she complemented me on a good sermon would always follow with "Nhung ma, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO SAY?". I yearned for her to leave out the "nhung ma", but I don't remember her ever just saying, "Missionary you preached a good sermon this morning". So, to this day I can live with ma and/or nhung, but always fear I will hear that horrendous "NHUNG MA". And I am getting old now.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


When I was getting ready to peach my first sermon in Vietnamese, I wanted to tell the congregation (not yet assembled) that my purpose was to persuade them to follow Jesus Christ. I didn't know the word for persuade so it was off to the dictionary. There I found several words fir persuade and chose one that I thought looked and sounded good. We had to let our main teacher look over our manuscript. When he came to my persuade bit, his brow wrinkled and his eyes showed dismay. I told him that I had used the dictionary to find the word. Then he explained that I had chosen a word that meant to persuade someone to do or join something bad like the Viet Cong. We then chose another word that I use to this day though it may be old now, it seems to be understood.
And, when I need a word I don't know, I may go to the dictionary, but I check with a knowledgeable Vietnamese before I dare use it since dictionaries can be dangerous.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Memories of an 8 year old

I was turning eight during our family trip to Vietnam. I hold these two weeks as some of the best that I have had in my life. Because I was so young, it is hard for me to remember many details about Vietnam. However, I have never been able to let myself forget the attachment that I felt for Asia; even at such a young age. As weird as it may seem, one of the things that I remember most about Vietnam is the smell! I am not a big fan of any oriental food (McDonalds is my second home. Horrible, I know.) so the smell of Vietnam holds strong in my memory. I can recall walking down the busy streets of Saigon with my Mom and my sister and feeling right at home. This is very weird that I felt that way because 1. I am blond. Very, very blond. The Vietnamese women would constantly be coming up behind me to stroke my hair! 2. I am very pale and tall (now 5'9). So I didn't exactly "fit it". And 3. I had never been anywhere even close to Vietnam. However, walking down those streets, and seeing the people there, just felt so right. In the years since my first trip, Vietnam has never been far from my heart or mind. I have constantly been talking about, writing papers on, and researching Vietnam. You can't even imagine my excitement about returning in May! If I am ever having a bad day, or feeling down in any way, I just think to myself, "I am going to Vietnam in May...!!!!!!!" and I'm immediately overjoyed, and thank God for the amazing opportunity that He has provided for me. While in Vietnam, I hope to renew some of the old memories that I had, as well as make many new ones.

Tones are hard.

We began studying Vietnamese with one teacher from the south. He spoke no English which was good to have to dig through things rather than running to the dictionary, but we "wasted" a lot of hours and ended up going to the dictionary anyway. At that time (1963) there was little study material. Our text book was an old course developed by a Christian Missionary Alliance missionary. But, it worked and you couldn't finish the books without having a religious and Biblical vocabulary. Anyway, our first test was after about three months. After two months, Pauline told me I wasn't say my tones correctly. Of course I argued with her. But, the truth of the matter was I was not hearing the tones correctly and therefore not saying the words correctly. About three weeks before the test was scheduled, I began to hear how bad my tones were. Needless to say I did a crash course in repeating after the teacher. I don't know if I passed the test, but the mission let me go on to the next book. I still murder the tones and to be sure I am right I have to memorize the word with the tone. I would never trust my hearing to repeat a word correctly. Actually the Vietnamese understand me more in context as I do them. Tones are hard.


We had 0ur first experience in fulltime language study studying the Vietnamese Language in the fall of 1963 in Dalat, Vietnam. Walter and I were the only pupils and the classroom was the small study in our spacious, light, two story house built in this mountain town when the French occupied the country. We were studying hard with our slim Vietnamese teacher back from his garlicky lunch one afternoon, CAI NAY LA GI, CAI BAN, ETC. (translated What is this? A table. etc.) when a cry of anquish came from down the hall. It was Donna, waking from her nap with a broken hip after a nasty fall from our second story front entrance. Our study that day jumped from the office to real life as we called the doctor and went to the hospital. Still it took a year and more before we began to slowly grasp communication with our new countrymen. Three year old Donna's hip healed more quickly, in a cast that fully covered her right leg and half of her left. And she and five year old Deanna also learned Vietnamese more quickly, just by relating to our Vietnamese household help and the little friends they made.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vietnamese Class

Well I thought taking Vietnamese would be helpful in going to Vietnam. I have taken language classes before but Vietnamese is different. Well firstly, it is tonal so how you say things are different based on the tone. Ma and Má are two totally different words. The second thing is my classmates. Now they all seem to be nice people...well most of them. When you take a class like Spanish or French intro you expect everyone is trying to learn and everyone is in the same boat so to speak. In this class EVERYONE is connected to Vietnam. People are born there or grew up or in some cases speak Vietnamese fluently. Why you say would someone who speaks fluently go to an Intro class? They just can't write. Vietnamese is a language you have to listen to understand and differentiate the tones. So I am trying to learn why some People are having discussions about what certain words mean we have not learned yet while the teacher wonders how many times does she have to go over the vowels with me.


Uh oh. I'm up to my old tricks. I should be doing my cash flow analysis for my business plan, but instead I'm browsing TripAdvisor for reviews of hotels in Dalat and Nha Trang. Planning a trip is my favorite way to avoid reality.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pics from Saturday

We're used to seeing unusual things in New York, but this angel got a lot of stares. She was walking ahead of me on my way to the test.

This is our adorable teacher, Quyen. I wrote a little more about her here.

After class, Andrew and I go to Nha Trang Restaurant on Baxter Street in Chinatown. Our food orders vary, but we always order đá chanh, lemonade made with limes. Andrew grew up drinking it in Jamaica, and I grew up drinking it in Vietnam.

Are you wondering how we did on the test? Everything was fine except the dictation section. Rebecca only got one wrong on that section, but I missed 12 of 20. Andrew was not impressed with the fist pump I did after finding out I got everything right on the double consonants section. Maybe he'll tell you about it in another post.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ready or Not

It's not like studying for the bar exam, but getting ready for today's test sure brings up some memories.  I have studied all I can, so my fingers are crossed that I will recall more for this test than Rebecca (my nemesis) can.  Notice I say "fingers crossed" rather than "Lord willing" because I'm pretty sure that what I want here falls into James 4:3 territory.

We went out for breakfast after going to the gym this morning and reviewed vocabulary in both places.  At the diner, our favorite waitress, Dulce, asked what we were doing.  When we explained, she said, "I thought it looked like diphthongs!"  It turns out she's studying speech pathology in college.  So studying for Vietnamese has just expanded our relationship with Dulce.  Maybe she thinks we're cool now.  :)

After class, we'll treat ourselves to the movie we didn't get to see last night, maybe Greenberg or The Runaways.  And Flash Forward is back on television, so we can watch that on Hulu.  Baseball season is about to begin, which means we'll subscribe to cable soon and be able to watch television shows as they're broadcast--at least when the Mets aren't playing.

Okay!  Time to head over to the Chinatown YMCA for the test.  Wish us luck!  I don't mind if you pray, too, since your motives are purer than mine.  :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Night Before the Test

We didn't go to dinner or a movie tonight because Andrew wanted to study.  He couldn't motivate me this time. Instead, I researched a new camisole online.  Not quite as fun as a movie, but a lot more fun than studying.  And it counts as work because I'll review it later on redvioletproject.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Study Buddies

Every now and then sitting at my computer, I'll hear a Vietnamese word coming from the bedroom. It's Andrew practicing for Saturday's test. This reminds me to study. I copied his idea and took my vocabulary flash cards with me to the gym today, and he took his Vietnamese phrase list to work to get help from the company's comptroller, who happens to be Vietnamese.

I just asked him if he wanted to write something on this blog tonight, but he's too stressed about the test. So now I'm stressed and think I'd better get off this computer and go back to studying. I'm not sure I even care about getting the highest score anymore. There's so much to learn that it's dawning on me how meaningless a test score is.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Trip Prep

1.  I had my photo taken for my visa application today.  I thought I looked okay w/o makeup until I saw the picture!

2.  Andrew practiced his vocabulary for Saturday's test on the treadmill tonight.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


There's a center-of-attention woman who consistently out-performs me in Vietnamese class.  I wrote about her here.  We have a big test on Saturday, which gives me a week to review.  I want to take a 9-4 fabric workshop at FIT next Saturday, but if I do that, I'll miss the 2-4 review session with our teacher before class.  My archrival can't make the 2-4 review session because she takes a Mandarin class then.