Is my love desolate?
As usual, in January every year, Father Nguyen Ba Thong has a month for "resting in busy" in Vietnam. It is called "rest" as he can rest from his mission of serving God's in the U.S. It is called "busy" as he spends this little time coming and sharing with many people who need his "one voice, one hand" in Vietnam.
Journal – first day in Viet Nam!
I'm very joyful for today. I landed in Viet Nam around midnight last night. Tossing and turning all night for I couldn't sleep. 3 am, I wandered around the Ben Thanh plaza and met a man selling corn on the cob from Thai Binh. We shared a conversation about his hometown and family for almost two hours. I ate three corns. He charged me nine thousands in Viet Nam dong (about 50 cents in US dollar). I felt guilty for taking so much of his time. I offered him another 50 thousands in Viet Nam dong. He refused, indicating that he wouldn't be able to sell anything at this hour anyway, and he's delighted with our conversation for it shed him some warmth. But I insisted, for his kids. He accepted with much gratitude. He said, "I came into the South selling corn for 10 years now, and just today there is someone willingly join me for a small talk and even give me money." I was not sure how grateful he was, but I felt much joy. Thank you my brother, and thanks be to God.
Mission trip group in Singapore
Fourteen years ago. This was the last time I was in Singapore. Singapore is, for lack of a better term, different. It's much cleaner than Vietnam and Cambodia, but that seems to come with a few minor flaws to the country.
Making friends with Vietnamese children in Cambodia
Today on the second day of Cambodia we got to go visit the Vietnamese village, that is a group of about 14 families living very close together. One thing that I really like about the visiting is that it totally opened my eyes to see a completely different world from the world. I am living in right now.
Mission trip group with Vietnamese workers in Cambodia
I found the idea of going to a rustic village in the middle of nowhere is unappealing from the start; however, the village was worth the travel. Even though, the village houses were extensively cluttered, it only made the villagers closer to one another. In addition, the houses were divided merely by wooden sticks and plastic papering. Nevertheless, the relationships between the villagers are strong. It truly displays what OBV Stands for. One Body Village originated from the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. In this village, the villagers help one another for the better of the village. Together, they cook, eat, and live with one another-which is what a true village does.
Mission trip group with Vietnamese children in Cambodia
We arrived to Cambodia after a very long ride. The heat here is already different. I couldn't wait to meet the OBV kids here so we took tuk tuk to go to the hotel. We checked in very fast and and not waiting any longer we took the tuk tuk again to go straight to OBV House.
Mission trip group visit Vietnamese village in Cambodia
Cambodia is country that suprised me, its beyond my expectation. I came to Cambodia as a mission trip, concluding 6 other missioner. As soon as we crossed the border this morning, we went check in at the hotel with my group. After that, we went visited this small village at Kòm Pung Đo Areysak. Its a small village that Vietnamese property live, very poor Vietnamese. As I walked along with the all other missioner, we gets to learn about the historical story about the village and how it starts.
Dear Daddy and the volunteers,
After the trip, Mom N. told us to write a reflection. Actually we were afraid of doing this not because we didn’t have any feelings but we had too much feelings that we didn’t know how to write. Daddy and Mom, please don’t laugh at us when reading this.
Daddy, you are very busy with your business but you didn’t forget your promise with us six months ago. You said you would take us to the beach on holiday. This time you came home with the volunteers and brought us lots of love and happiness. We couldn’t say anything but thank you all.
Here we are at the central market in Phomn Penh. Father Martino is taking M., D., and G., to Singapore the following day on January 20th to have paperwork done in order to facilitate their potential future studies in the USA. It would be their first time in Cambodia, first time on a plane, first time in a big, beautiful city like Singapore. Life wasn't always so grand and spectacular for these girls.
Buying sex with a 12-year-old girl in Cambodia takes less time and effort than paying for a telephone bill. For $1 USD, a shady motorbike will take you on a 20 minute ride up the haphazard highway north of Phnom Penh to the dark and grim village of Svay Pak. Also known as Kilometre 11 or K11 (11 kilometers from Phnom Penh), Svay Pak is internationally famous for its tainted collection of shanties, brothels, and karaoke bars that exploit young Vietnamese and Cambodian women, and children as young as five.
An imaginary black cloud hovered over my head as I gathered the sights and sounds of suffering and despair of the past few days. However, where there is bad, there must be good. Amidst all this anguish and misfortune, there are angels who shine a rays of hope for all of us. I can't forget about Father Tuan of Can Tho who dedicates his life and medical skills to those whom society has casted aside as not worthy.
We visited a rural village further inland from the docks. If the church is this small and unkempt, then you know that the people are poor
Cambodia is deceiving. Hidden in the shadows of its vibrant city streets, modern architecture, eclectic culture, and majestic mosques is the discrimination and enslavement of Vietnamese people. Worse, the diseased tradition of trafficking Vietnamese women and children. Pitted from generations of hate and antagonism towards the Vietnamese government for exerting control and influence as early as the 13th century, the Cambodian government and its people directly disfavors the Vietnamese.
Father Martino and volunteers with OBV children
After a couple days in Can Tho connecting with the local church community, we head back to Saigon for a BBQ with the girls. It would be the last time we would see them. I carried mixed emotions on the bus ride back to Saigon. On one side I was super excited to see the girls again, on the other side I dreaded the inevitable bittersweet goodbyes at the end of the night. We all know I'm an emotional person!
Rows upon rows of bicycles - only the best way to get around!
We parted with the girls (but not for the last time!) to venture south of Saigon to Can Tho. Can Tho is the fifth largest city in Vietnam, and the largest city in the Mekong Delta. It is noted for its floating market, rice-paper-making-village, and picturesque rural canals (yes, I quoted Wikipedia). Of course, Wikipedia failed to mention mucky, desolate, down-and-out rural villages of Can Tho. Our shuttle bus barely traversed the bridges in fear of their collapse!