Friday, March 23, 2012

Vietnam- Home

We left Hanoi at 11:35pm to fly to Seoul, Korea. It was about a 4 hour flight and we had a 5 hour layover before our flight to Dallas.
We all decided that if we stayed up on the to-Seoul flight and during the layover that we could sleep in the 13 hour flight to Dallas and wake up and be on a mostly normal time schedule (arriving in Dallas at 9am).
At the end of our layover, about 6am in Seoul, the coffee shops began to open and everyone was ordering their favorite drink. These little shops did not offer decaf (I know that defeats the actual purpose of drinking coffee for most people, I just cannot do caffeine) SO, since my coffee preference wasn't an option, I ordered a hazelnut milk steamer.
I enjoyed my breakfast of a granola bar, milk steamer and my malaria pill.
We board the plane to Dallas. Let the saga begin...

We taxied to the runway and I was perfectly fine, but as soon as we took off, I started feeling nauseous. I thought it was my malaria pill. Which had been giving me problems each day if I didn't eat enough at breakfast.
Within a few minutes, that I-am-going-to-be-sick feeling, set in. I went to the bathroom and everything came up. The worst tightening of my stomach and whole surrounding belly area just rolled in pain.
The next 13 hours I threw up that milk (yes, the whole flight, you know the one I had planned to sleep during). I visited each bathroom on the airplane, depending on which one was vacant at the moment, and spent time with my new BFF.

Two things:
1) Milk was listed on the do NOT drink list for international travel. I knew this. But, I was not in Vietnam, so I didn't think a thing about it. Apparently, this milk was not pasteurized or spoiled or something. But it continued to not like me for the next 36 hours.
2) Korean airline flight attendants are AMAZING. Every time I came out of the bathroom, they were there to rescue me. They tried to get me to drink water, juice and gave me mysterious medicine. One attendant, named B (because she said her Mongolian name was to difficult for me to pronounce), came to my rescue and gave my hands and arms acupressure. She worked on my left hand for so long, that I cried mercy. BUT, right after she finished, I fell asleep for one whole hour and it was heaven. My hand had a bruise for a couple days in a certain spot where it was the most painful. They were remarkable.

We arrived in Dallas and at this point I was very weak, tired and hungry- but it didn't matter because we had to go through customs, catch another flight to Tulsa and nothing would stay in my stomach.
We only had 2 hours to catch our flight at 11:10, so we were really pushing to get through all the details and take the tram to another concourse to catch our flight. We made it within 10 minutes of boarding, only to see it was delayed until 11:50. I found a corner, fell over and slept for 30 minutes. Then we took off for the short flight from Dallas to Tulsa. Ahhhh home!

I called Adam and told him to have Emetrol (In my opinion the BEST anti-nausea medicine) and a banana, again my favorite calming food, ready for me at the airport.

My mom and I saw our family, and the signs they made for us, from a distance. They were so sweet to let me take a turn hugging each child, Adam and my dad. They knew that I was sick, so they didn't mull-me-over. It was so refreshing to kisses their little faces. Home Sweet Home. (I would like to say I felt that Home Sweet Home feeling when I arrived in Vietnam too. This double life I lead.)

The last three days home have been pretty good. It took some time for the nausea to subside and now I am eating normally. As my husbands boss said, "There's a new sheriff in town," and it's true, I had to start disciplining the children again. You know, within 30 minutes of being home. What is it about a mom that sometimes they just do not obey anyone, but mom?


The little toothpastes on the airplane are fun
Painting three murals with my mom
Rooftop view from Hanoi hotel
Walking around the Lake
Handmade Ao Doi
Chicken prints on the new concrete
Morning sunrise over the train station
Taking pictures of the village children
The GVI staff's organization
Two year old girl hanging over the mountain
Oh the views of the terraced mountains
The cheap massages
Seeing the kids paint for the first time
The bell at the school was a large drum
Tic-tac-toe with the kids
Shopping at the market on the mountain
Buying paintings in Hanoi
Sa's home, family and wife's dinners
Kissing and holding orphans at SSIII
The children standing-up when we visited their classrooms
Seeing God at work through the team and GVI staff

"I was in prison and you came to see Me." Matt 25:36

What a beautiful journey.
Looking forward to going again.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Vietnam Day Eight

Monday morning we headed to a local Hanoi primary school, 1-5th grade. On the way we saw college students sitting opposite a large French building drawing on site.
We entered the Hanoi Primary school and were shocked that the school was so large. It was 5 stories high, held 2,000 students and 175 teachers, 30ish kids per class. It is a private school and the cost per month is $150 USD.
Some interesting things we learned about the schools in Vietnam is that you pay both for private and public school. Public school is $75 per month with 60 kids per class. Another difference is that buses are provided for private schools for an additional $50 per month and public schools you have to provide your own transportation to/from school (opposite from US).
They took us to their library. They had an English children's book section that they were really proud to show us.
We visited the 4th and 5th grade classrooms and looked at their work. They read English sentences to us. This gal had really great fluency. I didn't know if she would understand that word so I said that she read the sentence quickly. She said in a choppy voice, "Not.Like.A.Ro.Bot." It was really cute, she understood.
The children stood and clapped when we came into the room. It showed such great respect and I wish we taught this to our children in the US. They remained standing while we talked and did not sit down until we left the room. The giggle from this class was brought on by the little girl in the cream shirt in the middle. She asked if we had any pets. Lois said she had a dog and asked if she had any pets. The little girl answered, "Yes, mosquitoes."
Aside from chit-chatting with the kids, the real reason for the visit was to have a meeting to discuss a new partnership between an elementary school in TX and the Hanoi Primary school. They started out as Pen Pals. We delivered letters to the students and they were really thrilled about receiving the letters. Both schools hope to work together to improve structure, teaching strategies and English. Our GVI team with the school faculty.
We were off to have lunch at the GVI office. Here is my friend Thao's desk.
Can you see the red poofy eyes? The damn broke about 7am and I didn't really stop crying until about 2 in the afternoon. (Actually I am crying right now just typing about it!) We had a little debriefing about the trip. What we liked, what we learned and how God was moving. We ended by praying for the GVI team. It was a heartfelt moment that I will treasure.
Tan's office. He has a Psalm posted that says, "My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God." I adore his heart that sings.
They dropped us off and we had free time from 2-6pm. We mostly walked the streets and finished up any last shopping. This little Viet cook is chopping chili peppers to add to her fish sauce.
THEN we hopped on a bike, really! It was a less than a 5 minute ride to our next destination, but it was thrilling nonetheless.
We met up with Dawn and had coffee at Joma Cafe. It was a quaint dive that my mom said she would hangout at if she lived in Hanoi.
Found a "pinterest" type shop. This crafty-girl was super creative. She made hats, button covers, necklaces, bows and basically everything in between. She had a keen eye for fabric choices. We all walked away with items for ourselves and gifts for others.
Known as "Hanoi Telecom" : ) This is pretty much on every street corner. Bless the men who have to work on these lines!
We walked from the Vietnamese Catholic Church (built by the French over a century ago) through the streets back to our hotel.
We packed up all our items (both the stuff we brought to VN and gifts we bought) AND HALLELUJAH for space bags! We filled 5 bags to the brim and used the hotel vacuum to suck out all the air. We easily fit 2 space bags in each of our carry-ons and checked one jumbo space bag in our large luggage piece.
We ate dinner on the rooftop of the Summer Set Hotel. Packed all our bags into the van and headed to the airport to catch the 11:30pm flight to Seoul, Korea.
I am now blogging in Seoul during our 5 hour layover : ) We will board here in a bit for the 14 hour flight to Dallas. Then jump on AA to Tulsa. Arriving Tuesday around noon. Looking forward to seeing my hubs and kiddos, and my dad will be there too.

During the flight we are going to write down our thoughts from the trip and I look forward to sharing those to close out the trip blog.

"For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land." Psalm 37:9

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Vietnam Day Seven

We had a short break after the night train/hotel check in. We ate breakfast, then loaded into the van and headed to Birla orphanage. There are 110 kiddos at Birla and they said 40 more will be arriving this summer.
We broke up into groups and played with the children. We played frisbee, made animal balloons and painted nails. I was on the nail team. The girls either had the longest most beautiful nails or bit them down to the cuticle.
We left Birla and walked to lunch. Here is a typical yellow and green Hanoi building. We have been told that the printed phone numbers are spaces/apt's for rent.
Family style lunch. Both teams: Natasha, Angela, Lois, Kaitlyn, Kris, Chris, Joedon, Jill, Rick, Diep, Annie, Alex, Huong, Kanyon, Nathan, Nick, Dawn and Tra.
Then we headed over to another orphanage, SSIII. It is both a home for the elderly and for orphans. Dawn gave this Ba her necklace.
We all made a bee line for the baby room. Jill holding Quan.
Dawn holding a little girl. She was a preemie and is still a peanut at 10 months old.
Lois rocked a baby to sleep.
Rick and a baby playing with a Santa toy.
I loved and kissed on baby Hai. She rested over my leg for a long time while I scratched her back.
For those who have followed our journey with Avi Joy... this looks so much like her first bath picture!
Baby Hai. Let's pray that Vietnam signs the Hague Agreement quickly so that US/VN adoptions can resume and that all these babies will find forever homes.
Anthropology. Everywhere you walk in Hanoi you see Anthropology... Old green boards, iron doors, rusted pots, mom and I should be buyers for them. HA.
As many of you know, there are no seatbelt laws (that we could see) or laws against babies/toddlers riding your bike with you. Every few bikes that passed by would have wee-ones holding on tight as their parent zoomed though the street.
I noticed these helmets with an upside down U shape cut out in the back. I could not figure out what it was until this gal flew by. It is for your pony-tail! After we saw her, we noticed many other ladies with their ponytails sticking out of their helmets.
We came upon a stall selling stationary and cards. When we asked her how much the cards were, she pulled out her price list along with a sign that she was deaf. My mom knows sign language and as it turns out, Vietnamese people use ASL or ESL (signs the same, spellings are different). They were able to communicate and it was a joyful moment for all of us.
A wedding party taking professional pictures around the lake.
This one is for my dad. Today at Birla we let the kids have stickers. I knew that one girl was behind me touching my back. When I took my shirt off tonight, she had put smily face stickers on my shirt : )

Tomorrow will be our last day in country before we start our 2 day journey home.

"His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day." Ps 91:4-5


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vietnam Day Six

We woke up in the morning and because we had finished all our work early we were able to spend 1.5 hours at the Water Buffalo Market. We drove up into the mountains where they sell every kind of item, fruit/veggies and of course water buffalo.
The ladies setting out their harvest.
Seriously, I am a sucker for these peanuts. Don't you just this little guy all wrapped up in a handmade baby sling? I think I should be in the postcard biz.
An old Ba, or grandma, selling some kind of ginger or something at the market.
Leaving the market- this is what it looked like as we drove away...
We headed to Sa's house for our final lunch. Kris, Kaitlyn, Alex, Annie, Angela, Natasha, Thao, Joedon and Sa's son.
Sa's wife, Thuy's, kitchen prep area.
Thuy cooking our lunch of sesame chicken, potato soup, veggies and rice.
Sa's son and daughter. Not sure what Sa's son's real name is because Sa called him about 4 different names since we were there. We called him Sa Anh, Little Sa.
And his yummy daughter Phoung Anh. I mean come-on could you be any sweeter!!! I gave this one some kisses, I could not help myself.
We packed up our things at the hotel in Bac Ha and we were able to walk around the city for a bit before we were picked up to head to the night train.
We found a banh shop. Like a bread/cake-ish shop. We had bread filled with cream, kinda like a big soft cream horn.
Half way through the drive to the train station we stopped and took an hour long boat tour. I think it is the Red River.
A boat going to pick up some passengers. Notice the long motor. The motors do not hang into the water because many parts are too shallow, so they stick straight out from the boat.
It was very relaxing. We all agreed that if the chairs would have had head rests, we would have all been asleep!
We took one more stop during the three hour drive to the train station. This time it was to see China across the border. The lady set up shop and of course itty-bitty stools for people to come and have her sweet tufo dessert.
Crossing the bridge from China to Vietnam. Three wheels, four guys and a million boxes.
The girls at the China border.
We also saw a dancer at a pagoda. She was giving money to a national hero in exchange for his luck.
You could go into the temple and leave money to also be apart of receiving luck from the hero.
We arrived at the train station at sunset.
We boarded the train at 8pm and got off the train this morning at 6am. We arrived back at our hotel in Hanoi. Checked in and loaded pics from yesterday. Today is full of serving children at two orphans. Thank you St. Joseph's and friends/family for orphanage donations. I have two suitcases loaded up, one for each orphanage.

I heard a quote by Jimmy Carter this week, "Go out on a limb. It is there you will find the sweetest fruit." Amen to that.