Archive for August, 2017


July 2017 – 1. August, 2017

Click here for a link to July photos

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Post a 4 day retreat, the end of June, with Vietnam MCCers and their families we returned to Hanoi.  Our plan was to visit a Dr. in Hanoi, the “big city”  in one of the larger hospitals to get a second opinion about Paul’s hernia, which was diagnosed in May.  The visit on Tuesday June 27th resulted in learning that the Dr could schedule him for surgery the next day.  The recovery from a laparoscopic procedure would result in less invasion to the body; one night over night; and one week of more limited recuperating. So, although a change in plans, we are grateful this has been part of a bigger plan of care for us.

On Friday, July 7, we returned by plane and bus to our home after Paul had a positive check up with the Doctor and had some stitches removed.  It felt good to be home.  The gracious, caring culture of Vietnam blessed us repeatedly during the time of recovery and being in “repair” mode.  The day after returning from the hospital in Hanoi we were visited by all the MCC staff with gifts of roses and personal verbal blessings for Paul’s speedy recovery. Being at Karen and Major Treadway’s home in Hanoi with their family also felt like home with caring and love, as needed.  Each of their 3 children were happy for some time to be with us. We loved the opportunity to surrogate grandparent.  The day we returned home to Duc Pho the entire staff from the center visited bearing a special vitamin drink of birds’ nest for his daily consumption!

Retreat here in Vietnam with the Vietnamese staff and their families was a great experience of mixed languages and cultures.  The site was at a coastal resort about 4 hours South East of Hanoi by bus right on the beach.  Team building games, splashing and swimming in the waves and water, visiting a nearby safari type zoo, and indulging in the fresh seafood meals prepared each day by the resort were some of the highlights.  The games and activities were really fun and often silly beyond words!!  All ages were able to participate!!

One month prior, in early June, Paul and I headed out to a rented house on the Big Island of Hawaii where we had one week with our daughter Amy, David, and 10 month old Forester.  Time was mostly spent playing with and caring for Forester.  What fun!! He has of course changed significantly since we last held him at one month of age!  And he will continue to change and learn.  His bright, responsive, and mostly happy personality were great to be with.  His interest and ability to check-out various shapes of objects, whether they were toys or simply other objects provided interesting time together. Amy and David celebrated an early 5th Anniversary while we baby sat and we also got to cook some of our favorite family foods.  (Supplies, kitchen tools, and time deter us here in Vietnam from getting around to that sort of cooking.) We visited the beach, the volcano sites, and the nearby pool as part of our time together.  Now, when we speak to Forester on the screen he smiles immediately and seems to recognize us!!

Our little town, growing town of Duc Pho now has a supermarket, a large electronics store, and now two English language centers where native English speakers teach English!  Yes, that means we are no longer the only native English speakers in town!  We were able to meet one of the 3 foreign teachers from the US who teaches at the privately run center. We offered our friendship and assist when possible knowing how difficult it is to learn a new language and culture.

We also had a visit from another OT. She is from Australia. We mentioned her in our last blog. She works and teaches OT Australian students in the city of Danang.  She was able to come and visit our center a few days.  It sure was great to have the ideas and input of another therapist.  So encouraging and affirming! We had visited her work in Danang back in May.

I, Esther, have been updating files, goals, and activities for each of the persons at the center.  Of the 20+ persons I am about half finished upgrading and writing for each one.  The heat of the season seems to make time and brain power move more slowly!  However, when I look at each person’s files and see the progress in each I am excited and feel the blessing of health, life, and rehab!!  For example, so many of the children are now part of groups of two or three as they share an activity.  This is progress from 6 months ago when these children would sit and stare out the window or lie on the floor while the other children participated in an activity.  Much of this change has occurred with the staff modelling or gently encouraging these persons to join in an activity.  One can feel the care and sense of positive outlook available to the patrons who come to the center daily.

One special activity in mid-June was hosting a group of 16 college students from Fresno Pacific College, 2 professors and a tour guide for a day at the center.  In preparation, Paul reviewed some of our sources on Agent Orange and the war and tried to talk about it from the vantage point of the Vietnamese and ourselves back during those war years. They seemed to enjoy observing the therapy activities and other activities at the center. Paul and I hope that some of this experience that day will impact their lives as they choose and process their future.

I need to complete continuing OT education every couple of years. Feeling the need to actually meet other OT’s I elected to attend a National OT Conference in Perth, Western Australia in mid July with some support from MCC. It was a great three day event with a little extra time to see the botanical garden, the zoo and Fremantle historic town.  In addition to meeting one of my former teachers from Richmond, I also got to meet 4 Vietnamese who are part of the group in Vietnam that is sending 5 students to India to get their degree and bringing Indian professors to Vietnam to start two OT University programs in Vietnam.  On the 28th of July, we learned more about that program and got to meet several other foreign OT Volunteers in Vietnam that we did not know about before.  We attended a one day workshop in Da Nang for those interested in OT to network and to learn from each other’s experiences. From all of this I received lots of affirmation for what we are doing and that it is the best that can be done at this time without OT educated local staff.

I have been invited to share about my experiences of doing OT therapy at the National Agent Orange VAVA Conference in Hanoi. There will be representatives from each of the provinces. I feel quite honored.  I seek your support as I prepare for this event the 1st week of August in Hanoi. I am grateful for Paul’s ability to accompany me.  This will be an opportunity to share and to learn more about what is being done in other parts of the country for people affected by Agent Orange. I even got fitted for a Vietnamese dress for the occasion.

We send each of you much love and wishes for peace and joy for each moment in your lives.  We love hearing from you when you receive our blog and hope we can stay in touch with life in your world as well.

Click here for a link to July photos

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