Archive for December, 2016


Dec 2016 – 10. December, 2016

Dear ones far and near,

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Since we last wrote in September, there is much to share and much to be grateful for.  Currently, here in Duc Pho, Quang Ngai, in the Central part of Vietnam we celebrate small and big joys.  The days are cooler (74 F/23 C) so that we do not need to be wiping away dripping sweat and have the variety of sleeping without fans, AC’s or open windows!  The garden project for growing organic vegetables for the center patrons has begun, the soil has been distributed, the irrigation has been built, and the first plants planted!  Paul has been able to carry heavy loads, shovel and dig, and get his hands in the soil a bit, as well as, participate in the planning of the project.

In the area of  therapy and Occupational Therapy work, based on a request and decision from MCC and VAVA the partner organization under whom we work, I developed some simple functional assessments for use by non-medical persons when they visit homes of victims of Agent Orange spraying.  I took my years of experience, my observations of life and needs here, and some materials from other sources to make a form of 23 pages using English and then translated it with Paul’s Google translate and another person’s language knowledge.  We took the weekend to teach 8 persons. Using the technology of a Power Point, smart phones and photo and video capabilities, we will begin by visiting homes along with the trainees and assisting and guiding them in use of this approach. We were able to find a local person who knows some English and wanted to try translating.  It was very helpful and took the pressure away from my need to always be thinking and speaking in two langauges!  For the next weekends we will be accompanying persons to observe and give assist as they use the functional form and consider what might be done in homes to improve their daily quality of life.  Many of these people do not come to the day care rehab center because they are unable physically or because it is too far to come daily. The hope is that we can generate some therapy activities that the family will be able to do at home after they have been trained and after they see a demonstration of an idea.

In October and November we had the joy of visiting three other centers for persons with disabilities – one near Hoi An and two in Danang.  This provided ideas and motivated us to request that the staff have the opportunity to visit and gain ideas from such a learning tour. For those of you who share some funding with MCC for our work this is the sort of thing that your money supports.  We just returned from this experience.  It was very exciting to see the staff absorb the new ideas, ask questions and return to try out some of the new things immediately!  No, we will not recreate a place such as we observed, but we can implement some of the ideas and thus make a difference for some of the patrons or persons with disabilities. 

We have had some visitors coming here also!  This was quite special since we were able to travel to various homes with the visitors and benefit from translators.  You can imagine that many ideas are left floating or incomplete when all is expressed in Vietnamese.  Although we are getting a bit better in some settings – not all!  One group of visitors were the MCC Southeast Asia representatives, Jeannie and Dan Zimmerly Jantzi who live and work from Cheng Mai, Thailand.  They had visited here in 2014 and were quite encouraged to see the progress of the project which VAVA has begun here.  Ron Byler, the MCC USA director was also part of that visiting team, along with Vietnamese staff from MCC Hanoi.  Great to sing some songs in English together, enjoy meals around the table in our native language, and hear descriptions of the other MCC projects in  Southeast Asia, and the world from these directors respectively.

Mid- December we plan to fly to Hanoi and spend a little over a week with other team members there – some will be simply rest and relaxation over the Christmas holidays and some will be meetings.  We look forward to the big, big city and meeting with colleagues and faith friends from our first three months here in Vietnam.

On our personal lives, we both are well and healthy! Sleep well and eat well and try to get some exercise as often as possible. We both completed yearly physcials with no negative results.  Our hearts and spirits are blessed frequently with chats and views of little Forester, who just completed his 4th month here in the world and was part of the Thanksgiving gathering at his other grandparents home in Placerville, CA for a few days.  So special to see his little face and hear the sounds he makes at this time!  Our children and their partners continue to be well and our siblings and extended family are well.

As for the surprises and changes which can be impacted due to politics I would quote words coined by a friend.  “No matter who arrives in the White House, the people we need to live with (and I would add, to love) are all around us. We have cracked open many new and old conversations in the past year. We are talking about the truth, safety, love, hatred, Right now these conversations are wounds, but maybe we can begin to heal if we take care of each other.” For me, taking care of the other, means taking care of myself by breathing, loving this being, listening to the other and sharing my life with the other as possible.

In this season of advent, waiting, changing weather, new mornings each day we cherish your care and communication and we feel your love and send ours your way.  The privilege of life for this moment is given to each of us.

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