HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM
14 June 2013
Had an incredible, crazy day. Saying thank you prayers for safety and just so content with my life! Cassie and I went on my first ever Vietnamese motorcycle to downtown for lunch with Spencer. It was AWESOME!!! Didn’t really feel scared, but was more excited to ride. 🙂 We flew with the other thousand motos around us. I’m so glad I went with her though, she was careful and cautious for my sake. 🙂 As we crossed a huge bridge with the denghys below, I had a “I’M IN VIETNAM!!!” moment. I’m so blessed to be here, especially with Cassie!
We had delicious food and sugar cane smoothies. I bought several pair of “Ali Baba” pants in Cambodia when I was here last year, but have worn those clear through! So Cassie and I went shopping and I bought several. Everything is so cheap here that I can actually afford to shop for the first time since April!
Riding on a motorcycle with my friend Cassie.
Afterwards we drove around, looking at famous French buildings. To be honest, I didn’t necessarily want to go inside the buildings. They are remnants of a colonial era and personally, I am more interested in Vietnamese culture than their captors/colonizers/whatever we want to call them. So I just enjoyed being on the bike and seeing more of the city than I did last time.
Afterwards, we went to a school where I would meet Khiem and his organization for the night. She dropped me off once I met a Deaf man from the organization and I hung out with him until others showed up. I was reminded again how different Vietnamese Sign Language is compared to American Sign Language (or rather, reminded how much Khiem really does know a lot of American Sign Language 😉 ). It was perfect because I had time to chat and re-learn some Vietnamese Sign Language before others showed up.
French architecture in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.
WHO IS KHIEM?
I didn’t know until I arrived in Vietnam, that for the first time in Vietnamese Deaf history, a group of Singapore Deaf would be visiting their organization! And as “luck” would have it, I was in Vietnam for this historical night. (Though I don’t believe in luck 🙂 ). It was awe-inspiring to see all of the Vietnamese and Singapore Deaf learn from each other, play games together, and laugh ’til our sides hurt. The energy in that stuffed school classroom was incredible—the Singapore group is traveling around Asia meeting Deaf and performing their cultural dances. The Vietnamese group also prepared and performed dances as well. I got a ton of film and cannot wait to make a video for The Deaf Dream!
The best part of the night for me was to watch Khiem direct and encourage those in his group. He is SO proud of his organization and it’s obvious that he has dedicated his life to this group. It inspired me to be better and do more.
Vietnam and Singapore Deaf group (with me on the far left in pink skirt).
It was fun to interact with the Singapore group because our sign languages were more similar. I met some amazing people in both groups: so many Deaf Dreamers that are making a difference in their communities despite the stigma around deafness.
WHAT IS THE DEAF DREAM?
After group pictures and the Singapore Deaf group left, we took lots of pictures with each other. 🙂 One of the most memorable experiences of the night was when the Khiem started passing out the school supply kits that they had received from the Singapore group. One young boy ran up and gave one to me. I was shocked and at first tried to hand it back, but quickly realized this was a gift from the entire group. I had a rush of emotion and promised to bring it home with me.
Afterwards, Khiem helped me arrange the bus. They told me my bus (#56) wasn’t working at 20:00 o’clock so he had me go with one of the students. He was so kind and safely walked me to the bus where he rode with me. It was dark and we were walking in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. This was the first of several “trusting moments” tonight. I had to trust in the innate goodness of people after doing my best to be in safe situations. I was praying, asking my Heavenly Father if I should get out of this situation but even with the nerves of walking downtown with someone who was a stranger a few hours ago, I felt at peace. There is a family bond in the Deaf world and as long as I’m cautious, there are times when traveling when I just have to trust people. 🙂
So we went on bus 150 but the bus ticket man said it wasn’t going my direction. [The ticket man was talking with a Vietnamese boy who wrote it in Vietnamese for my Deaf friend who then signed it to me in Vietnamese sign language—it was another fun/crazy multi-lingual experience! 🙂 ] I didn’t know how to get home so my Deaf friend (who told me to call him Nick since I didn’t understand his real name in Vietnamese fingerspelling :)] told me to come to his house first to get a motorcycle.
Khiem and I at the end of the night. He is so grateful for those who donated via The Deaf Dream! Thank you!!!
YOU KNOW YOU’RE IN VIETNAM WHEN…
There are times when it’s hard to write in a blog my feelings because they are thoughts that need to be carefully written. I write the following not to judge or incite pity, but instead to open minds to new perspectives on life and express my gratitude.
So for the second time tonight, I had to pray and trust again that I would be ok. I knew he had 3 other brothers in his family, but I was not prepared for their one room, tiny home down a skinny alley [I could not even stretch one arm out while walking in the alley.] The “kitchen” was a corner of the room with a bucket that served as the shower too. There was room for a small table that had a big computer on it that the brothers were using for school work. The room had a floor built between the floor and ceiling to create a second floor and one of the brothers was laying up there.
After their initial shock of having me show up, one of the brothers drove me home on a motorcycle. We stopped at a gas station because the tank was completely empty. He only could buy $1 of gas (20,000 dong) to get the spindle off the “E” mark on the tank. I felt so badly to use their gas but my offer to pay for my own gas seemed to be embarrassing for him and slightly offensive. He was a good driver (though I am glad he was NOT my first motorcycle experience as he drove much faster than Cassie and we were driving at night amid the semi-trucks) and we made it to the school near Cassie’s home drenched from the rain.
Again, I was praying to remember how to get home as it was night. But the Lord helped me find the house and I must say, I had a feeling of accomplishment when I walked in the front door of Cassie’s home! 🙂 I was grateful for the feeling of peace I felt the entire trip home (about 3 hours time) and am still in awe that I was able to participate in the Singapore/Vietnam Deaf conference today! The Lord is in the details, it’s obvious to me everyday!
DO YOU HAVE A DREAM?
One of the most rewarding part of traveling for me is learning to trust people. After I prepare, plan, and try to “be smart” while traveling the world, there are times when everything falls through and I just have to rely on peoples’ goodness to get me through. And guess what!? After all my traveling, I believe that 90% of people are good and help because they genuinely care.
When I’ve told people this percentage, most look at me like I’m crazy or start lecturing me about how I have to be careful to not trust too many people. And I totally understand where they are coming from. To be honest, there have been times in my life where I thought a majority of people were bad eggs. 🙂 But now that I have decided to give people the benefit of the doubt and have been placed in situations where I have to trust strangers, they nearly always come through! And more and more, I am able to believe in peoples’ innate goodness.
2 NIGHTS IN QATAR