August 2018 – August 3rd, 2018

Attending 5 year local VAVA Assembly meeting

Attending 5 year local VAVA Assembly meeting

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We now have less than three months before we start our new journey towards retirement. We are trying to record the memories in our hearts and minds of each day. We are making our last scheduled visits to accompany the staff for home therapy in homes.  Some children we have known since we arrived. After months of uncertainty we received approval mid July to restart home therapy for the families that were already in the program and compress the schedule so this program is completed before we leave. Esther is letting the staff take the lead on these visits. We have both been impressed with their growing skills in working with each child.

Last week we visited a family from near here featured in the VAVA national program in Hanoi that we attended in August 2017. Esther had bonded in Hanoi with the mother who was from a different district in our province. The VAVA chairman from Quang Ngai took us to her home where we met her 16 and 26 year old daughters who have very misshaped chests and backs and very weak arms. The memory is of the love expressed between the two girls and with their mother. These children are too far away from the center, almost two hours by car, and yet what they really would benefit from is home therapy but there are no such services. We are purchasing some locally available toys and activities to help them stimulate their minds and bodies.

This last week we also spent two nights in the city of Da Nang and got to meet a new OT from the US who is starting a therapy program near there with another NGO. It was great to see her youthful energy and be able to confer about different children’s needs and share ideas and experiences for locally available materials for setting up the therapy room.

The new MCC country representatives for Vietnam will arrive in August and after that decisions will be made on the other MCC programs here and on recruiting a replacement therapist. An interim MCC country representative for Vietnam along with another regional resource staff member visited us last month. We got to reflect on our experience here. This felt good and validated our observations that the need is great and good work has been happening. We suggested some changes in how MCC relates to placing staff here and operating the programs.

In May we had a good friend from Virginia visit and together we explored Sapa, an iconic terraced hill tribal area and Halong Bay with limestone islands featured in many tourism pictures. Renee King, our friend, also visited our town and extended her time in the town so she could soak in the culture and life here. Her photographs and stories of her days helped reopen our eyes to life right where we live.

We still have a few vacation days left and hope to visit Saigon and Can Tho where we used to live in the 70’s during the war. We are also looking forward to a visit here by Chika, who was a Japanese high school student who lived with us for a year when Amy was in High School. Doreen, an OT friend from our Church and Esther’s work in Richmond will also visit us a few days. As often happens, folks are visiting just as we are preparing to leave!

Our life in the US upon return will include beginning of retirement and being available and close to our extended family in Lancaster, PA area. Paul’s dad, at 92 years of age, continues to live and thrive in his own home in Salunga, PA. We would be honored to have more time with his perspectives and wisdoms. We will plan to find a place to live nearby so as to maintain our own space. We will also take some time to visit and be with our children and grandson who live in the West. After about six months I believe we will be ready to look for some part-time and volunteer roles. We seek your thoughts and prayers for our transitions.

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