Living the message works, too

Megan Hogue does face painting with youngsters at a children’s center in Da Nang, Vietnam, during a trip this summer through her college, Seattle Pacific University. Hogue and two fellow students worked with students studying English at Duy Tan University and helped out and taught English classes at the children’s center.

Megan Hogue spent part of her summer under the watchful eye of Vietnamese law enforcement.

But it wasn’t for spying.

Hogue, 20, of Fruita spent almost four weeks in the Asian country as part of a mission trip through Seattle Pacific University, where she is studying international affairs.

“It’s illegal to evangelize in Vietnam,” Hogue said. “We were told that the police were probably tracking our movements the whole time we were there, so that was a little unnerving.”

The trip, which was offered as part of the university’s Seattle Pacific Reachout International (or SPRINT) program, took Hogue and two other students to Da Nang, the third largest city in Vietnam. Thy taught English to college students at Duy Tan University and to children at Fisher’s Superkids Center.

The trip was “great from top to bottom,” Hogue said, but it was not a trip she had planned to make.

“I had gone home for Thanksgiving with a friend who was applying, and she’s like, ‘You should just do it,’ ” Hogue said.

So she did, as team leader for the trio of women who raised their own funds for the trip. She even took a three-credit class on living in another culture.

Their schedules didn’t ease up once their plane touched down June 14 in Vietnam, where they stayed at a university. They took classes in the mornings and afternoons and worked with their students in classes, practicing conversational English with them, Hogue said.

“The second half (of the day), we went to a kids center,” she said. “During the day we would go and help out and ... paint, organize cards and books, and then in the evenings we would teach classes.”

Because of the illegality of evangelizing, the women had to be careful about how they said things.

“When we were posting our blogs or sending e-mails, because we were using the (Vietnamese) university’s server, they could read all that stuff, so we had to be careful about not mentioning God in an active way, unless it was talking about ourselves personally,” Hogue said. “It was weird because there was so much we were seeing God at work, but then we couldn’t really talk about it.”

Hogue and her teammates found ways to overcome the ban on sharing their faith.

“It was really cool to learn about sharing the Gospel through living it as opposed to speaking it, so a lot of what we did was just service projects and that sort of thing,” Hogue said. “The people at the kids center are really strong Christians, so we did a (vacation Bible school)-type day camp with them, where you can’t necessarily teach about God, but you teach sort of Christian values so that when these kids come to the point where they’re making these decisions, they already have that value system in place.”

The way of life in Vietnam really made an impression on her, Hogue said, especially experiencing how relational Vietnamese people are.

“We were strangers walking down the street, and people would always being saying hello to us,” she said. “Every single day, we’d call it our random conversation with a Vietnamese stranger because someone would want to come up and practice their English, so they would just start talking.

“The pace of life is a lot slower, and so even though we’d be working on stuff in the kids center, the director would just be like, ‘Oh, let’s take a break,’ and talk to us for awhile about the coolest things. That was really neat to see the community aspect of Christianity.”

Hogue and her teammates became part of the Vietnamese students’ community, and she said they stay in touch through Facebook.

“Whenever I’m on really early in the morning or late at night, it lines up with their time schedule, so they all pop up on chat with, ‘How are you?’ ... We knew we were going to be spending time with students, but not that we’d actually go and make friends who we wanted to keep in contact with, so that was really cool,” she said.


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