31/12/2007: Muoi Dat and I

by Hoang Thuy Tien

About three years ago, I was thirteen. I was young, naive, silly, optimistic, and in my personal opinion, invincible. Fast forward three years and here I am, sixteen, still young, still naive. I still possess a sense of optimism and a sense of invincibility. Though I am still the same in a sense, I went through a simple metamorphosis. This simple metamorphosis was inevitable - I left middle school, and along with that, my friends, my habits, my comfort zone. I entered high school, and along with that, new friendships and relationships, new clubs, and a new challenge. The one thing that stayed a constant in my life during that change from when I was thirteen to now, besides my family, was Muoi Dat.

Granted that I am only human, I am flawed. Throughout those three years, I was pulled in numerous directions, some good, and some bad. It was hard to discern the difference from what was right for me and what was wrong. I have made mistakes and bad decisions throughout those three years. I have hurt those I have loved and in the long run, hurt myself. I would be lying if I told you that my faith in God never faltered. I would be lying to you if I said that I never strayed from Him. I wish I could tell you that I would have turned to Him for strength on my own, but the truth is, I did not. I did not know it at the time, but I was seeking guidance. A little after I turned thirteen and began the whole process of "growing up", I joined Muoi Dat. It was with this youth group that I found the guidance I needed.

Muoi Dat is a dynamic group full of people with different personalities and different characteristics. Some of us are not even Catholic-Christians, yet we still come together with the desire and passion to grow closer to each other and ultimately to God. Despite our diverse personalities and backgrounds, we have this shared identity that created a bond and a connection among us. The bond that we share is intense, to say the least. It was with this group of people that I renewed and solidified my faith in God. It was with this group of people that God's goodness was made known to me. I could not imagine growing up and overcoming ordeals without this group. Together, we have established a firm foundation of hope, trust, honesty, faith, and love through each other and through God.

I wish I could tell you how we have progressed incredibly throughout the years, last year in particular. I wish I could go into detail about how many times I've laughed, how often I've smiled, how many new people I've come in contact with, and how many familiar faces I've gotten to know better. It is almost impossible to explain how much I have learned about my family, my friends, and myself. To be honest, I am kind of forgot all the details. I forgot all the little things that occurred. All I know is that every time I think about Muoi Dat, I feel effortlessly happy and I know that I have been blessed by God. I couldn't ask for anything more fulfilling. Muoi Dat has reached out to me in ways that I could not even imagine or describe. My only hope is that Muoi Dat will continue to spiritually and emotionally prosper and effect others in ways that it affected me. At this point in my life, I cannot imagine catching the fastballs that life throws at me every so often without Muoi Dat there to help me.

I remember that as a thirteen year old, I used to look into the eyes of the older youth group members, Jane, Cathy, Chris, Theresa, Tim, Tom, and others, and see something indescribable. I do it no justice when I say it was a look of excitement, closeness, joy. I used to think about whether or not I possessed that same look and I remember I wanted to see what they saw. Now, when I look into the eyes of Kieu Nhi, Vi, Dan, Tina, Andrew, Thai, Monica and everyone else while we're blowing up balloons for the kids, or holding hands for prayer in a circle, I see the same look that I saw in the older youth group members back in the day. I see the same look of excitement, closeness, and joy. I see endless possibilities and an abundance of potential. I see upcoming hardships, but more importantly, overcoming those hardships. Because of Muoi Dat, my heart has opened towards others drastically. I could not ask for anything more.

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