Archive for November, 2018


Vietnam Window Transitions - November 2018 – 13. November, 2018

img_6086Click here to see additional blog photos

Dear Friends and Family,

We are full of much joy and gratitude as we transitioned from Central Vietnam in Quang Ngai province the middle of October to the present here in Central California. We now have the opportunity to spend time with our children and family.  Here in the US the Thanksgiving holiday is approaching next Thursday.  We will join with extended family through Amy’s husband, David Ghandehari for a few days close to the mountains.

Before closing our suitcases and packing MCC household items in our rented space in Duc Pho we had a whirlwind of home visits made with each of the trained technicians from the center. Paul, at MCC’s request put together a file collection of over 140 lessons, demonstrations, notes, and reports in both Vietnamese and English and 70 GB of photos and videos of children and their progress over time. We hope this will facilitate the transition for a new foreign MCC OT or therapist.

The farewell events included numerous surprises and special events we will long remember:

- Travelling in a rented van with the center staff to a water falls about 1 ½  hours northwest of our town and then to Hoang’s home, our translator’, for a meal

- Cooking with the staff at Phuong’s home making ‘nem’ corn filled fried spring rolls,  ‘banh xeo’ over charcoal burners, banana heart salad, and roasted rice crackers along with half a dozen other dishes. Then we sat outside in the setting sun and rising moon and stars to eat together.

- Travelling to Quang Ngai to bid farewell to the VAVA board and receive their words of thank you.

- Being hosted at a local restaurant by parents, children, staff and local district leaders.

Each of these events occurred within a week of our leaving. The week prior to that we had hosted the new MCC Country Reps, the new MCC Hanoi Lead Program Manager, and another staff person and showed them the various programs we had begun and tried to explain our ideas for ongoing service via MCC for persons with disabilities here in this area.

Our three days in Hanoi were very busy.  One day involved a full day seminar/workshop to which all of MCC workers and staff were included.  The scholarships for this training were made available by Fred and Minh Kauffman and focused on an approach to development which makes a lot of sense to us Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). The seminar was led by Gord from Coady International Institute.  Tuesday after the seminar we drove for about two hours to visit and meet the leaders of the new, one year old, OT training program at the Hai Duong University. The initial specialists with OT course work will be graduating next year.  Hopefully, MCC can become involved in supporting the program with donations of materials at the University or brainstorm with the leaders how an NGO such as, MCC could be helpful in sustaining an OT service for Vietnam in the future.

In July, we had a film crew from the main national, VTV1 TV station in Hanoi visit for 4 days to film a documentary of the center and our work.  The film came out in August and was a holistic view of our work and the center’s mission for those with disabilities.  Although it is all in Vietnamese you might enjoy seeing a realistic view of our life and work and the scenery surrounding us daily! Click here to see the 24 min film.

In the month of August as Paul and I worked at the center, we were blessed with two overlapping visits. Longtime friend Doreen Bender, an OT colleague from Richmond and the Cerebral Palsy Center. And Chika, who became part of our family back in 1998  when she did a year of exchange as a high school student from Kobe, Japan.  What a joy to have these two special visitors.  Doreen arrived a bit earlier and travelled to Kontum with us where we introduced her to some of the tribal groups and cultures and reminisced about our life and work in Kalimantan, Indonesia in 1977-1983.

In our last blog we spoke of possibly taking a few days of vacation to visit Can Tho and Saigon, where we had lived and worked in the early 70’s.  However, we decided to return to Hoi An and Dalat, two of our favorite sites to vacate and relax this time.  This included some souvenir shopping, visiting a green tea plantation, some of the many greenhouses, flower gardens, and just enjoying the beauty of the outdoors here in Vietnam.  What variety!

We have now been here in the US almost a month and feel that the shock of adjusting is something we are taking gradually.  We primarily are enjoying our children, Amy and Hans, and of course our grandson, Forester Orion, who is now 28 months old.  After some time celebrating Thanksgiving here in California we will fly to the East and find a place to live nearby Paul’s father, John, who still lives alone and will turn 92 December 2nd.  What will we do?  We hope to give ourselves a little time to adjust to things here.  We both turn 70 in December and this will mean that we are officially retired.

The new MCC Vietnam Representatives plan to recruit a new therapist volunteer for Duc Pho. However that will take some time so we have agreed to do a few hours weekly through March to provide OT Professional support remotely for the local staff technicians doing home therapy. And after that we shall see. Since we are continuing this Vietnam therapy involvement, we will continue to send occasional blog posts. Let us know if you want us to stop sending you email links.

We arrive at Dulles, DC November 28th. We have reserved a Bed and Breakfast near Dad’s, in Landisville, PA for December.

We also plan to visit Virginia and Richmond, December 12th – 16th to check in with some Dr’s, visit our storage unit and connect with our faith group, RMF.

To contact us try our new cell phones Paul (669) 249-8560, Esther (669) 249-8561. No changes to our land line – (804) 730-7459, and emails or We look forward to continued connections and being able to have those physical chats and discussions about nothing and everything that we have missed so much.


Esther and Paul

Click here to see additional blog photos

Comments Off
Posted in Uncategorized