Friday night’s introductory prayer into the weekend added in a few new pieces that had not been seen at recent previous Hop Mat Vung gatherings – that of a central visual setting to focus not only during prayer, but also throughout the weekend – and a Praise & Worship/Taize experience. Sitting in the middle of the room, seeing the energy from those around me – mind you, of all ages – joining together in community became a beautiful image to start off the gathering. What probably struck me most that night though was when the Praise & Worship transitioned into Taize – a slower paced musical prayer. What stands out most distinctly? Gentle sniffles on both my right and my left. Although I am not trying to say that tears measure the “effectiveness” of an experience, it was clear that in a few simple moments and with the right space, something powerful was happening – and it was only the beginning.
What’s a gathering without a little – or a lot of – fun? Saturday’s activities from piecing together image puzzles a la “Mission Impossible” to standing in lines screaming at the top of our lungs could only get better with Dong Hanh by Night. YaYAwockeez reminded us all “let’s bring it back”, the children warmed our hearts with St. Francis, “Super Cool” hosted an unforgettable rendition of the election panel, the teens danced, sang, and acted their hearts out, the world famous Chu Long revealed his magical expertise, and even the elders of the community showed their card playing skills. Words truly are no match for the photos, videos, and purely memorable moments that cannot be captured anywhere but in our hearts.
Then… the election on Sunday morning. As a young adult, I was hesitant. You see, many of the young adults in the community weren’t – and to some degree still may not be – completely clear on where we stood in terms of our place in – or not in – the community. Should we vote if we were not “officially” a “declared” group, or not sure if we were planning to be? How could we vote for nominees that we didn’t know very well? Questions like these ran through our minds and through discussions with older members in the community. On Saturday night, many of us had decided that we would just sit through the time allotted Sunday morning and observe, or not participate at all.
Somewhere along the way between Saturday night and Sunday mid-morning, though, something happened. In dialogue between the young adults and older members, we realized that what mattered most wasn’t so much what the process was defined as much as if we felt we were a part of this community and wanted to support its growth moving forward. That it’s not a perfect process; in fact rarely is it ever in any type of organization – but for the things that matter, are they there?
The sharings from each of the nominees also showed that hearing the sharing was more than enough to make a guided choice on whom to vote for the positions.
Then… some of the young adult groups decided to vote. Once again, words cannot describe what happened after this. It took the election process to a completely different level, living the Magis, the more in being open and honest with each other. In just one round, a new president – Binh Ha - for the region was elected. Next, again in just one round, a new vice president – Hoang Do - was also elected.
Then came the third and final position – the secretary. After two great rounds of electing new positions, it seemed like we had a slam dunk – so we thought. After hearing a few sharings, we found there might not be a nominee for this position anymore. What now? Minh asked a simple question – do you have to be a committed member to be nominated for secretary? No? Then he asked to nominate someone – my sister, Phi. Lots of excitement. The room started to bustle with noise. Yet, we wanted to test the Spirit to make sure. Why did Minh want to nominate Phi? After his and several others’ tearful and moving sharings, we voted. What happened? Phi became the first young adult to become a part of Ban Phuc Vu for Vung Tay Nam. In fact, this is the first board that includes such a range of generations. A huge blessing in terms of a step to bridge the ages and grow closer in community. This was an election experience unlike any other I had witnessed at a Dong Hanh event. By far it completely blew me away, and continues to floor me as I reflect back on the experience.