Journal of mission trip in VN – Summer 2010
– The main course of this day of May is a “handwork” session @ Xuan Loc, childhood home town of chu Thong. The team : chu Thong, chu Thong’s aunt, Khoa, Liem, Tu (4), Duc, Hoa and mini-self-of-me.
- We got into the 25-places-bus around 4.00am. Departure 4.30am.
- Pick-up Tu and Duc on the way.
- We bought “Sau rieng” + “Chom Chom nhan”. Where we stopped by to buy “Sau rieng”, I saw three “67” motorcycles nearby, lovely. Not in their best shape, but acceptable. I wish to own 2 like these. I definitely will ;-). For tuning of course !
- Arrival @ Xuan Loc around 7.00am.
- When we arrived at the house of the couple, for whom we will bust our behind and drop our sweat for (at that moment, we did not know what exactely the task is), there was something striked right in my face…the lady of the house was teaching young kids and her man was digging the foundation for a wall. They’ve transformed the forefront portion of their “house”, which is more like an assembly of “brick-n-brack”, into a classroom for 30-40 kids, from 4 to “No-idea” years old. You know what ?! I felt the deep true meaning of the word “home” immediately. It is a “home”, because it makes you feel safe, a safety which is not based on how solid the structure of the building is, but simply because the strenght of their unyielding love and darn sturdy conviction for these children. I admire professionals, but I admire even more professionals who can make their profession into an inspiring habit for others. One would exercises his/her profession in a certain “time-frame”, 8h /day, 5 days / week, but an inspiring habit, it pursues his course in a “life-time” at every moment, an inspiration through giving one’s knowledge is probably the best legacy one can delegate to the next generation…just a side line but…I should say that chu Thong`s work inspire me a lot…
- The class is totally free of charge !!! …no need explanations or comments here…yeah ! I just let my jaw drop to the floor.
- I took a few pictures of the kids, they were all excited since our arrival, so cute…They are simple adorable and beautiful. They reminded me of these words: “These poor children are so beautiful because in their eyes, one can see the hope, the desire, the aspiration for something better”…these words are from the master piece “The magician of Kabul”. A stunning story about an old Japanese, lost his son in 9/11, decided to break down the wall of incomprehension between peoples by visiting and eventually, building an elementary school for Kabul`s children, in Afghanistan. These kids here, at this place, gave me that look, an unforgettable one.
- So finally the job was digging the foundation for a wall. Why a wall ?? Their home, their class, their shelter, well…is next to a neighbor who possess a few pigs –> the smells –> the class –> the children…well we understood the situation, and why the wall.
- So we grabbed some shovels, picks, hoes and jumped in the game.
- It was hot. I guessed around 40 Celsius and humidity, well…all the perfect parameters to ease our job, fine.
- I have to admit that the first 30 minutes of work were the hardest:
- I`m a engineer, work in an office, push a pen + type on a keyboard for 8 h a day, not really a physical worker.
- Even all the sports, the physical pattern of this job is really different.
- I was born on a farm. Hoes, picks, shovels were my toys…but still, the last time I worked with shovels, picks or hoes was years and years ago…(left VN for 18 years already L)
- Man, the heat…lovely.
- But in the most “desperate” situation..hahahha…I remember my sensei and his basic lessons of Kendo.
- Technical lesson 101: Working and breathing at the right pace. It was my salvation..hahhaha…it really did help me to work longer, with less fatigue.
- Technical lesson 102: Keep your target at the right range…it helped to dig more precisely at better posture.
- Life lesson 101: martial art is not for hurting people, it is made to overcome difficulty in real life, one should train to “dig” into the difficulty and always innovate to optimize your way of work-à in one word: Adapt…damn that lesson..hahahhah. I love my old sensei.
- Seriously, this situation made me think about the old man, someone I truly respect. I felt really gratified for this job just for that memory.
- We stopped at noon for lunch. It was duck + vegetable soup + rice. It was really good, and because I was hungry to death too. 🙂
- Lunch is over, I brought a few dishes back to the kitchen. On my way back, I was amazed by a certain door. That door has all kind of writings on it (see photo), it is not pure vietnamese, I guessed it was “han-viet”. I asked “the lady of the house”, sorry that I call her that way :-), just a form of respect for her, I asked her if these words are the preparation of “han-viet” for the kids. She said these writings are not from her, these are from her husband. He is learning to pressurize acupuncture points (bam huyet) to help people around the corner. Well, my mind was smashed once again. They are living in a “6-pieces-of-woods”. He is a mobile-hairs-cutter (cat toc dao), 80% for free. His wife is teaching those kids, almost for free, and then he is learning acupuncture to help people in needs…inconceivable, wait for the last phrase of my next point.
- I was stalled for a while…my brain had to make a switch…and then we talked, at “that” door, in her kitchen…for a long time. All kind of subjects: music (I saw a few music papers, hanging on pole in her kitchen, she said that she is learning more about music theory to expand the knowledge of these kids…another “bang” for my head), mathematics, healthcare, education, her son, her wishes, etc…well, I cannot enumerate and discuss all the points here, some are so personal to her. But there was a phrase which she has repeated a few times during our conversation which knocked me out everytime, she said :”I`m trying to give everything I could, I wish that I can give more to these children”.
- How can you actually “give more” in these circumstances ?? How can it be “giving more” where is almost empty ? How can it be “giving more” when time is not on their side ? How can it be “giving more” in a almost bottom-barrel situation like this ? Their age, their health, their financial situation, their location !!!…They are not Bill Gates, with billions dollars, nor Bono, with a word-wide celebrity, nor UN, with all the diplomats, Ph.Ds, tanks and ships. But their vision, their courage and foremost their love have certainly not less impact than any individual or organization which I’ve just named. I guess she (and he) could do that because she was not giving “what they have”, but they was giving truly “who they are”, something…immeasurable, way beyond the material world…outside the grasp of the intrinsic physical constraints.
- I guess that “who” is deeply connected to the One who’ve said “I’ve come to serve, not to be served”. That Person is immeasurable, so anyone who is deeply connected to Him would eventually strive for something immeasurable.
- We finished our job of digging. My beautiful Chopin’s hands are full of bulbs and bruises, yeah…, those hands, girls are so jealous of those gracious hands of mine …hahaaha..(my hands were so sore and numb that I could not grasp my little camera properly J … damn painful…but happy J…am I a real loser ??…hahahaha)
- We took a group picture with the gentleman + lady of the house.
- They said “thanx” to us for what we’ve done. Frankly, I felt ashamed. I said thanks to them for the great privilege and opportunity that they had offered to us. For me, it was not purely a charity activity in a sense. It was not a unilateral giver and receiver. It was not a grace flowing simply from the top to the bottom. It was an exchange. But somehow, I felt like the pity one was me. Because the stuff they’ve given to me was way more precious than the wall that we’ve given them. On that day, they gave me an opportunity to take a glimpse at the highest value of humanity: “living to serve others”. I love a quote from Horace Mann
Doing nothing for others is the undoing of one’s self.
We must be purposely kind and generous, or we miss the
best part of existence. The heart that goes out of itself,
gets large and full of joy. This is the great secret of
the inner life.
We do ourselves the most good doing something for others.
- We left the place to visit the graves of chu Thong’s grand-papa and grand-mama.
- Then we were headed for the market for some fruits. On the way back, we visited a booth of Mobifone, a telecom company of Viet Nam, they were having a promotion with some funny games. Well, 4 chickens of our group (chu Thong, Hoa, Tu, and me) was chosen (don’t ask me how) to participate the game. The goal of the game was saying the slogan “Mobifon moi luc moi noi” as long as possible. Well, I won the game easily, but I did not feel quite proud, because I know the technique to keep my breath, since I was tenor singer in a choir in Canada…hehehe…it did help…thanx chi Nguyen…you are the best J. Mobifone did not give me my winner-price (a SIM for 6 months free call) since I’m not Vietnamese citizen. Well, no big deal, we played for fun, for troubles, for laughs…hahahha…not for a price or trophy.
- In the afternoon, we went to the church of the parish, chu Thong celebrated the mass.
- I paid a little attention to the TNTT gang in front of us. They were a little bit noisy, and some of them attended the mass quite late…hum…where were their Huynh Truongs ?? Well, just a remark of mine…
- We stopped by a restaurant to fill up our stomach.
- Arrival at Saigon around 7.00 pm.
- Eat late at night and then I continued to write this report till…don’t remember, but for sure not as late as chu Thong J
- Then “Good night and good luck”…another beautiful piece. !! J