The first day I was here Pastor Thai asked if I would read one of the lessons at church the following Sunday ( and preach the sermon. What he apparently meant was to connect the reading – I chose Ephesians 4:1-16 – to my mission to the school) To prepare, I had taken some notes and written down some thoughts and just prayed I would deliver a decent message.
5 August, as I was about to leave the hotel for church, it had begun raining, so I popped open my trusty little don’t-leave-your-Hanoi-hotel-room-without-it umbrella, the one mother bought in London in 1962 – of necessity in the London weather – and took off walking. As I stepped out of the door of the hotel the rain stopped, but by the time I was admitted to the school/church building it began to pour torrents. Once again it had cleared as I walked home. And what of the service? It was scheduled to begin at 8:00, as on every Sunday, but the downpour delayed many congregants and we did not start until after 8:45. This was a communion Sunday and the liturgy is just enough different that I had to apply myself to pay attention. I am so used to the American Anglican liturgy that I barely think about the responses. Today I had to give heed and that gave me a new perspective. (Hold your applause) I believe my testimony, which in fact did replace the sermon, went OK. I have never worked with a translator before and just got on with my talk without waiting for Michelle, a small, truly lovely young Vietnamese woman who acted both as a LEM for the communion service and as the service leader. When Pastor Thai, sitting in the front row, gestured toward Michelle, I realized I needed to pause occasionally to let her catch up. She did a remarkable translation for those attendees who had little English. She was also in charge of the overhead projector, holding the clicker in her hand throughout the service. Fellowship hour consisted of crustless tuna sandwiches and basketfuls of landchi (phonetic), a fruit resembling a lychee, with a very hard rind, about the size of a large marble, and nearly impossible to peel. They have to be peeled before eating and have a sweet flesh surrounding a firm black pea-sized seed. Indeed, they resemble their name: dragon’s eyes, looking for all the world like naked eyeballs.