Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Vietnam Redux

Talking about the Word with the amazing Yen!

One week from this moment I am in the friendly skies on my way to Hong Kong and then Saigon. Here are my thoughts after my first mission to Can Tho, a life changing experience. Prayers, please, as I prepare! This is from August 4-5, 2011. 

Good morning from the back of a cold bus somewhere between Houston and Abilene on the way to the TCSA inservice. The drought is devastating- the farm fields look like Nebraska…in late October. I cannot sleep right now which is predictable but I slept three pretty good hours last night. Catching up on Facebook is a nightmare. I have the faculty in-service devotional Monday and I’m assembling it mentally. You can probably guess my topic! Let me share a few things wrapping up my twenty-six day mission to Vietnam:

-One of the hardest things about the trip was that I missed the final episode ever of Friday Night Lights. I have not had the time to watch it on the computer. No more Riggins brothers, Buddy Garrity, Lyla, Landry, Smash, Tyra, Coach Taylor, etc. They will be missed.
-For a country with a communist government, Vietnam felt amazingly relaxed to me.
-The citizens are not allowed to own guns.
-People smoke inside buildings, something almost extinct in the US.
-While they are becoming wealthier, they are dealing with high inflation. I saw some incredibly luxurious stores and some gut wrenching poverty.
-If pho is not the National Food of Vietnam, it should be!
-I would never wear sandals while on a motor bike- seems like a good way to lose some toes.
-I've never been any place before where the whole country was surrounded by water.
-The Vietnamese are amazingly gracious hosts and hostesses. They take great joy in food and its presentation.
-Like China, if you hesitate, you are lost. People don't let you into a line. I was in the first seat of the bus and almost the last one to get off. In a mall, I offered to let a little old lady go ahead of me on an escalator but she just stood there. Her daughter told me in English that her mom was confused because that does not happen here.... and she thanked me, which I appreciated.
-Since Tom was sick, we watched quite a bit of television. Sabrina was a terrific movie with no sex/violence/profanity. Tom made me promise to watch Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? I liked the Discovery Channel!
-I learned alot about mission work firsthand. Everything costs money and it has to come from somewhere. Tom thinks this church can become self sufficient but it is not there yet.
-Ten dollars a month for public school and many families cannot afford it. He has sponsors for over one hundred kids with the funds coming from Christians in the US and Singapore.
-We take freedom of religion so much for granted. As they are completing their new church building and clinic, I heard Tom explain why they needed curtains over the windows and doors- so people cannot look in and tell the church building is a church building. They have grown to the point where they need to move around to avoid suspicion. American churches would/should envy their growth.

-I have yet to meet a Christian in Vietnam or China who owns a car. The ease which we are able to navigate our country is mindblowing compared to Vietnam. The number of motorbikes is staggering as is the number of people who travel between cities on buses.
-Nothing personal, AT+T, but my internet connection was better in Can Tho than Texas.
-I’ve become accustomed to drinking only bottled water and keeping my mouth closed on the shower. Speaking of showers, I miss water pressure as much as hot water.
-People want to practice their English with you in Vietnam. Unfortunately, their vocabularies tend to be hello and maybe thank you, unlike me who can handle hello, good-bye, thank you and me in Vietnamese!
-The most efficient airport I have been through is Saigon. The second is Seoul/Inchon in Korea. The worst? Well, it is on American soil.
-I’m not sure if this is good or not but I have become adept at slipping back into my comfortable way of life very effortlessly.
-This may seem strange but I’m more likely to slide in Bible reading and prayer time on mission trips than at home.
-I tend to relate everything on these trips to Honduras where I made my first trip and the majority of them. Truthfully, in rural areas, there is little discernible difference between Honduras, China, Haiti, and Vietnam.
-In the US, we teach kids to look both ways before they cross the street. In Vietnam, that philosophy leads to paralysis. There, they walk out into the road and assume the motorist will avoid you if you walk on a predictable course at a predictable pace.

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

http://www.hawleybooks.com/
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

1 comment:

Mumbling Matt said...

Remember: When you are on a mission trip, you are doing the greatest spiritual discipline - reaching out to your brothers and sisters and making kin connections. Do not fret about Bible study while away. Your study will be enhanced by your experiences of eliminating those you might have previously known as "others."