Archive for February, 2016


February 2016 – 17. February, 2016

Click here for link to Feb Photos:

Duc Pho Rice Fields

Duc Pho Rice Fields

Our world has evolved and shifted to another setting here in VN.  Feb 1st, a Monday, we flew from Hanoi, VN to an airport about 1 hour from the city of Quang Ngai, in central Vietnam (about in the center of the country.)  By Tuesday evening we were sleeping in the rented place which is now our home in   Duc Pho, a small town about another hour south from Quang Ngai city.  Each step of the way we felt like we were cared for and held strongly in the goodwill of our new neighbors, colleagues, and overseers. Many moments we have no words to express our emotions or our ideas!!!  Moments of serendipity have continued such as, being introduced to the local market by Em Ly, our neighbor, land lady, and “younger sister”.  Also, having some help to find medical care when I needed to go see a doctor and was escorted and guided by her son, a pharmacist at the local hospital.  Although I had no clue what was being assessed and was not given any explanation from the Dr. himself – just prescriptions for 4 different kinds of medicine.

So where does one begin?  Our last blog included some news of our holiday with family here in Vietnam.  In January we were back to studying language every afternoon with a tutor for 4 hours and some in the morning when possible.  Our last lesson with her was on January 28. We plan for some formal language here once or twice a week. The weather in Hanoi was a surprising chilly  42F/6C at times so we looked forward to a bit warmer weather here, however, it has been a breezy mid- 60’’s F/ upper teen’s C here.  So, our winter clothing used in Hanoi has been useful for both daytime and nighttime donning!

We packed visits to museums and other MCCer’s projects into our last weeks in Hanoi.  We were able to visit Viet Tri, about 2 hours north of Hanoi and spend the weekend with MCC SALT’er, Marie Dening who is teaching English as her 10 month assignment here.  It was great to learn about her life and work there. Another day we visited Daniel Friesen’s work site in the city.  Daniel is another MCC Salter who is volunteering at the The Gioi publishing company, doing editing of English translated materials from Vietnamese to make them more understandable by English speakers.   One day we had the honor of attending Phuc’s wedding –more like a big reception for friends in the city where both bride and groom work, since the ceremonies and local customs were completed a week or so earlier in Phuc and Mai’s hometowns.  At the MCC office where our living quarters were we continued to build relationships with  Jessie, another SALT’er who works at the office, MCC Vietnamese staff, Oanh, Phuc, Chien, Thu, Nhung, and the Treadway family and their helper, Thuy.

The last week while in the city of Hanoi, I was granted the opportunity to contact and meet, Phan thi Phuong Lien, a therapy worker who was trained and worked closely with an MCC service worker and OT at the children’s hospital in Hanoi in the early 1990’s. They created a book in Vietnamese on OT principles and activities.  I had tried to reconnect and learn how the info was shared/ used after the OTR left Vietnam but had little success prior.  So, meeting her and learning that she continues to work using OT practices at the hospital just down the street from the office was very encouraging. The head Dr of the department was also very interested in the work MCC is doing and will be doing with VAVA here in the province of Quang Ngai.  The guidance of a higher power was felt in all of this coming into being.

Monday Feb. 1st the last week of the old lunar year, we set out with all our luggage and some treatment supplies with the Treadway family, or MCC country representatives, and Chien and Phuc, MCC project managers for the 1 ½ hour flight to Chu Lai airport.  From there we traveled by taxi to the city of Quang Ngai where we met with the QN VAVA office and the next morning with the foreign affairs office in Quang Ngai.  All of these were rather formal around the table or in a formal meeting room with tea and toasts and exchange of gifts for the lunar New Year from MCC to the officials.  We then drove to Duc Pho on Tuesday and went to the center where we will work in another formal meeting with the staff and directors.  Since we had seen photos, the place felt somewhat familiar.  After lunch we went on to the house rented for us.  It is part of a duplex and the owners live next door and also operate a café every morning for about 2 hours.  Em Ly and her husband, Bay, could not be more wonderful!! I feel that we have been led to each other for now.  They do not speak any English, and they do not try so we are forced to speak Vietnamese or just ask for repeating.  They have 3 adult children, two who are married and live locally, with a three month and 3 year old grandchildren and one who is working in Ho Chi Minh City.  They used to live here but rented this out and moved to the other side of the duplex upstairs and have this large coffee shop area downstairs.  He is the party chairman of Duc Pho, and seems to be well respected and liked by many.  Ly is absolutely endearing and I anticipate getting to know her better.

Physically we have been provided for more than adequately.  The house has two levels with what seems like 14 foot ceilings on both levels ( I suppose it helps when it is hot). Four large rooms and a bath are all connected with this incredible curving staircase – you have to see it to believe it!  We have running water, filtered drinking water system, a refrigerator, automatic washing machine, a cooling/heating unit in our bedroom, and a hot water heating system for the shower.  So, more disconcerting is the contrast of economic living styles, large houses such as the one we live in which seem to have no need for more juxtaposed with the small cement two room cottage of our center director and his wife.  The director, Mr. Toan, however is very concerned for our well-being, bringing us Tet cakes wrapped in banana leaves and calling to check on us daily as well as visiting on the first day of Tet.

The center is walking distance from our house.  This week we will not have work at the center. Everyone is off for the New Year Holiday.   So we are glad we have this time to get adjusted to the area.  Our hours will be 7 – 11:30 and 1-5 Monday through Friday.  This will be flexible, we hope, but we have asked to be able to observe and get oriented before having to make a plan of trainings and treatments.  We were given a choice of office space – somewhere by ourselves or within the office of the director and another person.  We chose the latter.  Paul will be under the same director as myself to simplify things, I think.  I will have a therapy room for activities and treatment and hopefully can work there with individuals and perhaps do trainings also.  So far I believe there are about 20 “patrons”, as they are referred to here in English.  We got to see much of this in progress on our visits there.

Thank you all for the sense of care and support you have shown us.  Please continue to keep in touch.  We love your calls, emails and news. The use of modern connections has definitely helped us in our transitions.  We are also joyfully sharing the news that we anticipate being grandparents in early August when Amy and David, our daughter and son-in-law give birth to a baby boy!! The earth continues to be blessed.

Peace, Esther and Paul

Click here for link to Feb Photos:

MCC’s quarterly magazine, A Common Place, recently featured stories of projects MCC supports in cooperation with partner Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA). Read more about the Daytime Care Facility and Cow Bank Project initiatives.

The jungles of Vietnam were thick, so U.S. and South Vietnamese forces spread toxic pesticides to better fight the North Vietnamese during the war. Today Vietnamese families still suffer the consequences of the poison that covered them and their land. Watch a video here produced by MCC before we got here to learn more about this troubling legacy.

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