Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday at the Hope Centre

Friday represented the culmination and focus for this trip. 

We all travelled to the Hope Centre and spent time with Pastor Nhon, his wife Tre and all the awesome kids.  We would also spend time with the Pastor to formally review Kierra's three-week internship plan with him and reiterate our desire to assist him in setting up life-skills programs at his Centre.

In the van, on the way!

The new entry gate.

As customary, we toured the Centre to see all the new additions and updates that had been made since our last trip (November, 2017).  Much work had been done in preparation for the Centre to become an officially registered Orphanage - new dorms were being finished, the church had been moved and finished, new boys and girls bathrooms we completed and a huge water system was done.


Ms. Tre also proudly and thankfully showed us to one of the washing machines we provided in a previous trip.  Although a seemingly small thing, she reiterated that now with the new machines, their children don't have to stay up late to wash their own clothes and as a side benefit, they are able to wash their clothes more frequently.  Evidently, they Hmong children sweat more so this is a real big deal for them.

We then spent some time with the children who were not in school.  Below are two sisters.  Unfortunately, they were dropped at the Hope Centre because their Grandma could no longer care for them.  This was the second day for the younger sister.  Shad was showing them pictures of his family.

Cockroaches before lunch??  Just another day at the Hope Centre!

We then met in the Pastor's "living room" and began our formal meeting.  After some pleasantries, we dove into thanking him for hosting Kierra.  We also reiterated Spero Group's desire to see that the Hope Centre would continue to grow and prosper as God willed.  There was general reception and alignment to our common vision for the Centre.

Pastor Nhon reiterated his three-part vision for the options for his children:

1. Some would become pastors
2. Some would gain life skills and live and work outside of the Centre
3. Some would live and work within the Centre

We were both impressed and pleasantly surprised by hearing this vision from him.  This is the first time in the two years that we have been visiting that we had heard him articulate his vision so clearly.

We then took Kierra to where she would be staying.  Fortunately, she was going to be able to room with "Ruby", Pastor Nhon's daughter.

Kierra approving of her new digs...

Then it was time to say good bye!  It was a sad good bye, but filled with anticipation as Kierra was set to be used in many new and interesting ways for His good work.

Link to see all the Day 6 Photo Album

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thursday with THOH

Thursday was another insightful and beautiful day in Vietnam.  It started with breakfast on the roof top of our hotel.  The pool and view from there was fantastic.

Then we biked a little way and met Brent and his Tiny Hearts of Hope ministry.  Brent gave us a quick run down on the overall THOH ministry and then took us on a tour to a few of their local programs.

The first was the "Slum Project", ironically just a little way from the mega mall we took their staff and children to on Wednesday.

"Slum Project" is low income housing for the poor people of HCMC.

Here we share some watermelon with the "Slum Lord" - who actually ends up being a very nice woman.  She oversees the payments and "accommodations" of the slum.

THOH works with the residence to provide training and support.  They also provide basic necessities when needed.  We were asked not to take photos of the actual living quarters due to the fear that the authorities would get involved.

Then it was off to the Hope Centre - a "Goodwill" type establishment in the heart of the city.

Here, THOH employs locals to manage and work the shop.

Our next stop was the Hope House, a halfway house for at risk mothers and their children.  This was new the last time I was in Vietnam (November 2017) and had really taken roots in the community.

Kierra and Shad "roughing up" the kids with some good old fashioned playtime.

...and then some quality time...

Our night ended with a very nice Brazillian-style steakhouse meal.  We enjoyed our time and fellowship with reThink Company - a startup video production business that I am helping mentor and coach.

Link to see all the Day 5 Photo Album

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Wednesday On The Move...

Wednesday was a good transition day - with a lot of stories...

The day started out well with some quiet time and a sunrise.

The sites and sounds of Vung Tau never disappoint...

Of course it is important to have a video call with Tucker and the kids to show them the sites at the beach...

"Papa Smurf" has taken to his retirement at Vung Tau.

...and the VIP bus back to Saigon was a nice ending to our time in VT...

And a trip to any country is never complete until... Micky-Ds (same marginal food)

A victorious Shad - after leaving his iPad on the VIP Bus and tracking down his custom-made suits.  It was touch and go as we used the Apple "technology" to track his lost iPad (because it was still connected to the VIP bus's WiFi).  Within the Apple application, we watched as the bus and the iPad slowly leave the city...

BUT, after a quick 911 call to Bich and a lot of strange poor English to poor Vietnamese calls later...  "Khong Sau" (no problem).  The iPad was quickly returned to the bus station!! - a true PTL moment!

Our next adventure was a long trip to see Peter Stone and his Company of Grace!

There he has programs for disabled people to use their skills and train others in many things - handicrafts, computer learning, English course, baking and others...

Here Hoa shows us some of her sand art - I thought that was a poster until I got up close and realized it was made from different colors of sand!  

Hoa is in wheelchair and has limited use of her hands, but she has the dignity in meaningful work as she is able to use CoG facilities to do her handicrafts and then sell them in the local markets.  

...a fantastic woman with a gentle and pure spirit...

We are so blessed to call Peter and Ing (his wife) our friends and co-labors in the Great Commission!

Our day finished with a customary "Texas Chicken" (notice "Churches" has been omitted) team dinner at the local mall with the Tiny Hearts of Hope (THOH) team.

This was a particularly special event in that we we able to celebrate Vi's 18th birthday 
and sendoff to a culinary school in Hanoi.  

Vi is a lovely young woman who has had a difficult 18 years but because of THOH, she and her sisters were rescued from the streets and not can enjoy all that God has planned for her.
She even practiced her (future) skills in putting together her own cake.  

Her brother is just graduating from the culinary school and through God's timing, was able to quickly get his sister into the program - in part, because he was such a good student!

How fortunate to be a part of the THOH ministry and outreach to orphans and underprivileged.

Here also with the Pastor of the Hope House (half way house for batter women and children).

Link to see all of the Day 4 Photo Album

Tuesday @ My Huong's Centre

Spending time with My Huong and her children at the Vung Tau Centre (Orphanage) never gets old.  Every time I have the privilege to visit her Centre, there are always new children and new stories.

Today was no different; except I had never had friends and family with me!!

I'll let the pictures do the talk'n...

Kierra took to the new little baby girl - sadly, abandoned in the hospital about a month ago.

Kierra getting mauled, err...  LOVED by one of the special needs children!

Shad sharing his adoption stories with the workers (and his new little friend)

Shad being suspicious of someone's mustache(s)... (twin boys, undercover)


I made a quick friends with Quac - a 14-year old boy rescued from streets

And what's a day in Vietnam without a "lite" torrential down pour??

...but it provided a great time do some electrical grid work...

Our day ended with a fantastic lunch with Ashika and My Huong at the local Ausie/Viet place.

...and a gut bomb...

Link to see all of the Day 3 Photo Album

Monday, May 7, 2018

Monday - Off to Vung Tau!

Monday was a beautiful day in Vietnam!

We were put on to the new boat ferry rides to Vung Tau by Peter (An) - good friend and translator.  He arranged to have the tickets delivered to our hotel - wake, breakfast buffet, hand-delivered boat ferry tickets to Vung Tau; is this a great life or what?!?!

The ferry dock and boats were all new since the last tie I had been to Vietnam (November 2017).  Gone were the days of unreliable and rickety old Russian boats.  These new boats were modern, clean and fast!

As usual, the ride to Vung Tau was gorgeous!

Once settled into the Green Hotel, a short 15 minute ride from the ferry station, we rested up for our trek to see Jesus.  

Jesus, need I say more?

Although a little overcast, the long climb to see Jesus almost claimed Kierra!!  Most likely struggling with heat exhaustion symptoms she nearly passed out on us.  However, she did maintain her sense of humor (once she was sure she wasn't going to die).  

Here she is pointing out the fact that she followed all of the rules, including, NOT barfing on the trail...

The rest of the day we motorbiked around the town and then met My Huong and Ashika for dinner.  

Ashika is a young woman from Australia who is working in Vung Tau and with My Huong this summer.  Kierra will be partnering up with her in a few weeks.

Link to see all of the Day 2 Photo Album