About Esther


Introducing myself via some words written and shared at the September 19, 2015 sending service in Richmond, VA

“This is my opportunity to speak appreciation and gratitude to you and others not present physically who have guided and journeyed with me in the past almost 30 years here in Richmond.

Part of my being and guide over the years is my father, Lester Hoover. Some of you have known him too but he is and will be part of me and has guided me in the process to choose to see “the person and fellow being” in those around us.  This is the legacy and spirit he left with me and I have been more able to embrace this in the past 5 years since I acknowledged that “I am enough” and “I am loved”.

Background on this journey:

So, my past included years of “service work” –

-growing up in a different culture from my own by living in a town populated by Italian Catholic immigrants although my family was Lancaster County Mennonite Anabaptists,

-working and living in South Vietnam for 4 years during the war,

-working in basic health and nutrition for 6 years in the forests of Kalimantan, Indonesia (Borneo) and

-then working on a farm in Lancaster County for 3 years providing opportunity for the owners to go off and do some sort of service.

As I describe, this sense of serving as a part of my life was there before this idea of serving in Vietnam now with MCC emerged.

In Spring of 1986 our family of 4 moved to Richmond so that I could begin the entry level Master’s Program for Occupational Therapy at MCV.  I was full time graduate student. Paul was the house parent with Amy 6 and Hans, 4, and husband looking for work as we settled.  This faith community and many of you were significant in holding us in the circle of care at that time.

I always thought that after I became familiar and well “know ledged” in the field of Occupational Therapy I would find a role overseas somewhere to use this training. For a while I spent time looking and always wondering “where and how” this was to emerge but it did not.  Quite a few years ago I realized that my work here was serving a need and I was at peace. Our children grew and moved away and found their own sense of being in the world with much love and respect and care for us as their parents.  Again, you who are here today provided much support for our spirits through the journey. My phrase for parenting – it is and was one of the most challenging roles I ever experienced but I would not turn back.

In March 2015 an email about a need for a person to work in rehab in Vietnam with persons impacted by Agent Orange came across my desk. A friend from my days in Vietnam pointed this out to me.  I read some of the details then said to Paul, “Look at this job in Vietnam” We both read more and he said, “I would come with you.”  So in the past months we have set into place a move down this path.  In May we learned that we were invited to serve in this assignment with MCC. We accepted and we are leaving Richmond October 18. We go to Orientation in PA for 7 days and fly from there on October 28 for Hanoi Vietnam.

What will the work involve?

We know we will be in 3 months of Language study in the town of Hanoi and then later we will be living and working in the town of Duc Pho where the rehab center is.  I will work under the director of the center who is a Vietnamese person likely with little rehab training.  Giving suggestions for improving functional skills for all ages to the rehab staff, family caregivers, and persons with disabilities themselves, will be my tasks.

Am I overwhelmed with the unknowns?  NO. I am grounded, grateful and feel that each step of the journey will be new but I will be present and follow my heart. Occupational Therapy has included seeing “the whole person both physical, emotional, mental, and spirtual.  It can include exercises, play, hard work, tasks of daily living such as, tooth brushing, feeding one’s self, dressing or bathing. It usually includes caregivers and person cared for or receiving therapy and is dependent on motivation for change from the part of the caregiver and the cared for.  A goal can be “empowering persons to reach for the best”

Our term of service is 3 years.  For now we plan to store some of our possessions here in a climate controlled unit.  We will likely settle somewhere near family and children but do not know the details of that now.  We would anticipate making one home visit mid this time since we have some aging but healthy elders such as Paul’s 88 year old dad and my aunt and step mom who are living in Lancaster.  Seeing them in person versus Skype would be a good idea.

I thank you again for the part you all have had in our lives here these 30 years in Richmond.  And I hold you in my heart and if you wish in our email contact as we move on.

Esther Bucher