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Summing It All Up

I’m addicted.  My roommate liked to say “called”.  She says that sounds better.  But “called” or “addicted” or whatever you want to say, I’m in love with Northern Vietnam.

Seeing familiar faces, remembering some names, sharing His love with such special people, having opportunities that only come by going back to the same people over and over again, all of this and so much more are overflowing from my heart.  I wish I could share publicly some of the greatest stories that occured, but of course, those are the ones I need to share over a cup of coffee.  Just know that the Lord heard your prayers and answered them, and I truly appreciate all of you supporting and encouraging me as I obeyed Christ, said good bye to my family again, and went to an amazing country to teach some incredible teachers.  I’m beyond thankful to have gone, and Lord willing, I will return soon.

Until then, I hope you enjoy seeing a taste of what my two weeks, two different cities, and two educational conferences looked like.


Our Last Day in Bac Ha

I got a little teary eyed saying good-bye to some of the teachers at the end of the conference today.  Each time I come, I fall more and more in love with these people and this place.

Overall, I think this conference was extremely successful.  The teachers are so fun and willing to do anything I ask them to…even if it means feeding each other applesauce while blindfolded =)

And this city…I won’t even try to put into words how incredible this city is.  Simply incredible.

Tomorrow morning, we begin our journey home.  We will leave the hotel at 7:30am and spend the day in Sapa hiking and sightseeing. Then we will get back on the night train tomorrow evening to head back to Hanoi.  We should arrive in Hanoi about 5:30am and then hang out there until our plane leaves at 11:00pm.  We will then be flying home for the next 24 hours.

All that to say, keep lifting us up as we begin the long trek home!   Starting tomorrow night, the countdown begins until I get to kiss my hubby and kids again =)


(I wrote this 2 days again during a storm and the internet went down before I could post it.  We have already made it to Hanoi and are just waiting until its time to go to the airport to start the flight home!)

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Yesterday proved to be an incredible ending to an incredible conference.

The participants seemed to have a great time and the evaluations of the conference seemed extremely positive.  YAY!

After the closing ceremony and a quick dinner, half of us drove to the train station in the POURING rain.  This picture is the best I got and it doesn’t even come close to showing how heavy the rain was.  My luggage was soaked and all my clothes are currently laid out all over the room trying to dry.  Luckily I have an awesome roommate that doesn’t mind the mess =)

Once we got all cuddled up in the train, we attempted to sleep. Here four of us are in our close quarters for the evening.  We had a good time, and I think we all slept a little bit.  I’ll be honest, I’m thankful I took some Tylenol PM or else that water dripping all over my bed probably would have kept me up more =)

Do you think we have enough luggage?!

I woke up this morning and looked out the window on the train and just took a deep breath of relief.  Its hard to explain how beautiful this place is.  Its like the stress just melts away the minute I see the mountains of Bac Ha.

We spent this morning going over our curriculum for the conference and then after lunch we attempted to go to the school to set up our rooms for tomorrow.  Did I mention its still raining?!  And the van got stuck….

So we just walked.  And now my room is all set up and my translator and I are all ready to start teaching tomorrow!

The conference will begin at 8am our time, 8pm your time.  Please think of us and lift us up tonight before you go to sleep.  We need the rain to stop so the teachers will be able to drive their scooters to the conference and for energy and health as we engage, teach, and love on these teachers!  Thanks =)

The Last Two Days…

Life is a bit of a blur these last two days.  A fun blur though!  Yesterday I finally got my favorite meal in this country on our way to the conference! Its the little things that make me happy =)

The Special Education conference, and one of the main reasons we are here, started and lasted until 9pm last night.  Here we are getting our nails all colorful as we get ready to begin to “Color our World with Hope”, the theme of the conference this year.

Every conference always starts with an opening ceremony full of introductions, acknowledgments, and setting the scene/explaining the theme of the conference.  Yesterday’s opening ceremony got a bit of a special treat,and Minh Son was there to paint a picture of the story Niki shared to set the theme of the conference.

After the opening ceremony, the sessions started.  The sessions last 3 hours which seems like a long time when you say it, but it really flys by when you are in the session.

At this conference, I’m assisting John in the session about Revive, a respite program for children with special needs. So far, the participants have asked a ton of questions and have really shown an interest in trying to start similar programs here!

And if you know Niki, you know her session always involves fun stuff.  This year, there’s face painting and tie dying going on in her room.   Who doesn’t love that?!

The other sessions involve topics about how to do centers in the early childhood classroom, Defining ADHD, Asperger’s, and Autism, and how to help these kids, Sensory Approaches to dealing with difficult behaviors, Normal Language Development, and Special Education.  Good stuff right?

We have one more day, but so far the response has been great, and the teachers here are wonderful.

But I’ll be honest, I’m secretly counting down until we get on the night train to go to Bac Ha. =)  I just love that place!  As soon as the conference is done tomorrow, half of us rush straight to the train station.  We will arrive in Bac Ha at 5:30am on Monday morning and begin preparing for our conference up there.  I will be leading a session about Life Skills at that conference.  Can’t wait!

The First Few…

The long 2 days of travel is definitely not the best part of this trip!   The first leg of the trip involves a 14 hours flight on which I was situated behind a 2 year old, beside a 4 month old, and in front of a 3 year old. I was definitely thanking Jesus for headphones and Brent’s Kindle! And actually, now that I think about it, I think all the crying and fit throwing that kept me awake on the plane allowed me to complete almost all my reading for the classes I’m teaching in the fall. So yes, I’ll go ahead and say my seat was a weird blessing=)  The layover is always brutal simply because I’m so exhausted, but the second flight wasn’t too bad and I was able to sleep a bit.

But after 2 days of travel, we finally made it to Hanoi. Stood in line for an hour for our luggage, and rejoiced that every single piece of luggage made it, and then we drove an hour to the hotel.

At which point, Sara and I crashed. Literally. I think I asked which bed she wanted and she replied, “whichever one you fall on is yours”. In fact, we crashed so hard we didn’t think about changing PM to AM on the clock and so didn’t wake up this morning! I woke up at 8:37am, screamed a bit, and both of us proceeded to very quickly get ready. And when I say ‘very quickly”, I mean we were downstairs and ready for our meeting 13 minutes later. Can you tell? =)

We spent the morning at the University with the interpretors getting to know them, reviewing some conference materials, and tie dying shirts for the conference. The conference starts tomorrow, and I think its going to be fantastic!

We had the afternoon to get conference stuff together and try to recover from the jetleg. I choose to recover at a little place with this sign in front. It was heavenly.

And now, I’m taking my exhausted behind back to bed.  Before you go to bed tonight, lift us up while we speak and engage with the teachers.    You are 12 hours behind us, so at our noon, your midnight, we will be leaving the hotel to start the conference.  From here on out its long days and late nights.  We need sleep and health and for His strength to be shown in our weakness.  Thanks!

Two of the Eleven Days

Putting into words the experience I had in Vietnam is difficult.  I keep sitting down to write and my mind seems to go blank.   It is such a beautiful country full of amazing scenery and even more amazing people.   People that will forever be engrained in my heart and mind.

The women on the trip

Some of these sweet people were the teachers I was fortunate enough to teach in a conference we led while in Bac Ha.  If I remember correctly, there are 52 schools in this province and each school sent 2 teachers to the conference to learn “the new methodology”.

I had to put that in quotes because it was said soooo often!   The schools there teach scripted lessons in a lecture style.  The purpose of our conference was to teach “the new methodology” of interactive teaching.  In other words, we got to just have a lot of fun with these incredible Vietnamese teachers!

I taught four sessions over a two day time period.  Each session was three hours long.  I videoed some of my sessions so you could glimpse a bit of what the conference was like.  Of course I edited out most of the actual teaching part and just let you see the fun interactive part.


As I said earlier, the teachers were fun, did everything I asked of them, laughed, and simply made the two days fly by.     It also made me realize two things:

  1. I really do love to teach
  2. It is much easier for me to be half way around the world or to work full time than it is for me to be a stay at home mom.

My incredible talented and amazing translator!  I choose her if I go back again =)

As I’ve adjusted to being home again, I have really had to fight against the urge to just keep working outside the home, getting involved in projects with the church, and getting busy with things other than my kids.

I wouldn’t trade staying home with my kids for anything. I believe I’m obeying the Lord and doing what I’m supposed to be doing by staying home with them. However, there is something tempting about being out in the work force where people validate you, you work in a controlled environment, the kids can’t yell at you, and you feel like you accomplished something every day.

And those of you who work full time don’t get mad at me. I’m not for a minute saying your life is easy. I’m just saying my time in Vietnam was nice because every day I accomplished something that mattered. (and yes, having clean undies in everyone’s drawers does matter…just not in the same way)

Accomplishing things was satisfying.

Satisfying is probably the perfect adjective to describe my time overseas.

Going Home

We are just an hour away from heading to the airport. We took the train all night last night and got into Hanoi at 5:30am this morning. We have spent all day in Hanoi and then our flight to Tokyo takes off at midnight our time, noon your time.

Our first flight is 6 hours and then we have a 5 hour layover before we begin the 14 hour flight into DFW.

Aren’t you jealous of my next 24 hours?! =)

I have so much I want to share and so much I want to write about, but it will have to wait until I’m on American soil and have constant internet access. For now, will you pray for us as we travel home? We are all anxious to get home, hug our spouses, and sleep in our beds!

The countdown has begun….24 hours left.

A Little Glimpse

Here is a little video of some of the work we did with the water buffalo corral. I thought my family and friends might like to see some of the work rather than just hear about it =)

And yes, I worked hard too. I just never thought to hand my video camera to someone else so I could prove to all the skeptics that I worked hard! Maybe next time =)

Today we started the teachers conference and my sessions went well. It probably went so well because I have an amazing translator!

The teachers are engaging and participating more than I thought they would as well. My afternoon session had me almost in tears they were so funny. One of the teachers in my second session works at one of the schools we have worked with this past week so it was fun to see her again and have a chance to just sit and chat with her. She asked me all about my hobbies and what my husband did as his job which led to a great conversation. I’m hoping to see her again tomorrow so we can chat some more!

Keep lifting us up and asking for more opportunities. The water buffalo work was fun, but this conference is where I’m gifted so I’m looking forward to tomorrow and teaching some more.

And I’m really looking forward to a big juicy hamburger when I get home! And a hug from my hubby =) Its crazy what you start to miss after 7 days =)

Did You Know?

Did you realize that if a farmer in Bac Ha is able to get a water buffalo, his yearly income will double?

With a water buffalo, they can grow more corn and rice.  The corn can be used to feed the livestock which enables them to have more livestock.  The buffalo can also transport more rice up and down the mountain to the market so the family can sell more and make more income.   Without a water buffalo, their yearly income is around $1000.  With a water buffalo, their income is around $2000. Makes you want to go purchase some water buffalo and give them away doesn’t it?!

Through our organization, a member of our church was able to help this family purchase a water buffalo, and we got to deliver the buffalo to the family this morning.

Its amazing how one person listening to the Lord and obeying his lead can change the entire future of a family living halfway around the world.

The past 48

Our first full day was spent acclimating and preparing for the teacher conference we will be doing at the end of the week.  Acclimating included riding around the city in these fun things.  I have great video of a bus almost hitting my feet as we crossed an intersection.  Good times =)

We finished our tour at this incredible hotel with an even more incredible menu for lunch.  It was about the time that we finished this yummy lunch that my body realized it was 2 am our time and it began to protest being awake.

I did manage to stay awake until we arrived at the night train that night.  I have heard horror stories about this train, but I’m now convinced all those people who told me those stories were lying.  It may have been the best nights sleep I’ve had since arriving here!  Really loved this experience!

We got off the train at 5:40 am and drove up the steep, curvy mountain for 2 hours until we arrived at this town.  This is where we will be for the rest of the week.

Yes, that is the Ranger game on the Ipad.  We arrived here just in time for the game.  I would love to say I stayed around to watch the Rangers lose, but I didn’t.  I went to the market instead and had a blast. The people here are so friendly and the whole area is just beautiful.   I am loving Bac Ha!  So thankful we are spending the week up here!

I’ll try to upload some pics soon that will show you how amazingly beautiful it is.  And maybe eventually I’ll be able to upload the video of the bus almost hitting me in Hanoi as well =)

But for now I’m off to dinner.  I hear its supposed to be the best food ever.  Hopefully they are not lying to me like they did about the train =) And then tomorrow we start working with the farmers and their wives, and I hear it is pretty hard work.  I’m looking forward to it though.

As you all wake up on your side of the world, lift us up and ask that we would sleep well tonight.  Sleep is something not everyone on the team is getting yet but it is so desperately needed before we begin a busy week here.

Thanks and enjoy your day!

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