By Truc Vu, as told to Companion Nancy Clisbee “on the road”
Definitively Incorporated Candidate Truc Minh Vu, spent his summer at St. Francis Xavier parish in St. Joseph. Though taking a break from his formal studies, he had a definite goal in mind for his summer – to learn to drive. He came equipped with an Illinois learner’s permit, and plans to take the test in Chicago this fall.
When I noticed an item in the SFX Bulletin requesting parishioners to help provide Truc with some practice, I immediately felt that request “had my name written all over it.” I checked with Fr. Joe Bathke (and my insurance agent!) and we were off in my 2005 Camry. Truc was well acquainted with “traffic,” having long ridden motor bikes in Ho Chi Minh City, but he did not know how to start a car on the first day! He proved a good learner, and we practiced every day that one of us was not out of town or busy. Companion Cayetana Maristela and parishioner Mitch Gerving provided practice time as well!
During his last couple of days in St. Joseph, I interviewed Truc as he drove all around St. Joe and on Interstate 29 – both of us enjoying the fact that he felt comfortable enough at the wheel to speak and drive, and I was able to concentrate on my writing – not on his control of the car, lane changes or ramp exits. We both know that Chicago driving will be another step up in difficulty, but for now, Truc is an ace driver for St. Joe!
Nancy: Truc, what was the most difficult part of learning to drive?
Truc: Parallel parking!
Nancy: What was the most fun about learning to drive?
Truc: Feeling more confident! Driving on the highway is more difficult – I need to keep my speed even, and there are difficult situations – big trucks make me a little bit scared – and driving in heavy rain!
Nancy: What will you remember about driving in St. Joseph?
Truc: The places we saw and visited: the Missouri River, the St. Joseph Library, Rosecrans Airport with the air national guard planes, the Cathedral of St. Joseph, and our trip to St. Benedict’s Abbey on St. Benedict’s day.
Nancy: I enjoyed that too! I had never been inside the abbey before! What was the biggest surprise about St. Joe? Was there anything you did not expect?
Truc: The wonderful welcome by St. Francis Vietnamese families! I got to spend time with them in their homes on Sunday evenings. I joined their special prayer time and ate with them. They’re very happy and doing well in St. Joseph.
Nancy: What else will you remember about St. Francis and St. Joseph?
Truc: The House of Bread food pantry – I had to learn the names of all the foods to help fill orders! I visited a nursing home and hospital with Fr. Mark – the first hospital in America I have seen. I also went to the Boy Scout camp with him. Fr. Ron took me to a meeting at the First Christian Church … I had not visited protestant churches before. Fr. Bill took me to a big American picnic (the very large, outdoor “Hurlingen picnic” to benefit Seven Dolors Church, in the country, just outside St. Joseph). I enjoyed two meetings of Companions.
Nancy: You will be in the US for maybe 2 more years? What do you miss the most in Vietnam?
Truc: Oh! My family! My country too!
Nancy: How does St. Joseph compare to Chicago?
Truc: St. Joseph is much quieter, and smaller.
Nancy: Where is God easier to find?
Nancy: It was a good summer!
Truc: Yes, a good summer!