A shining star guided a fishing boat with Vietnamese refugees to safety, and ultimately led to a new dream

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In1988, a shining star guided a fishing boat with Vietnamese refugees to safety, and ultimately led to a new dream.

Phuoc Nguyen and his family was one of several families who survived a dangerous escape attempt from Vietnam on a fishing boat. Phuoc was only 13 at the time when he fled Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City, with his single mother and five siblings. Prior to boarding the fishing boat, children were not told the purpose of the trip and how it would change their lives forever. Along the way, the children learned the purpose of their journey. Hearing conversations of other refugees not surviving their escape and encountering pirates, the reality of the situation set in.

After several days of navigating through Vietnamese government patrolled water, Phuoc’s ship had lost its way. It was at that point the captain decided to “take a chance on following a bright shining star,” said Phuoc.

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Tet 2011 in Vietnam- I have 5 lives left!

Well let’s start with Tet and then I’ll fill you in on some other happenings as well.

The eve of Tet was alot of fun. I was originally going to head back to Ho Chi Minh City for Tet, but decided to stay in Soc Trang with my family instead. I’m glad I did. I don’t think it would have been good to be in HCMC during Tet with my injury anyway. It was bad enough with the traffic and crowds here.

 

It was fun to see the build up of excitement with everyone leading up to last night’s fireworks and today. The fireworks were quite impressive and great musicians for entertainment. There were also some small boxing matches including some women boxers. Love it!

 

I met a ten year old girl who was sitting next to me to watch the fireworks with her family. My cousin tells me later she could tell the girl wanted so much to converse with me, but was shy at first. She has been studying English for the last two years and we had quite the conversation going. Not only was she good at English, but she was a little mature 10 year old.  At the same time, her youthfulness still showed through in the conversation when we discussed about Tom & Jerry….oh wait a minute……maybe I just haven’t grown up yet! That’s ok too! At one time she asked me what I would do if someone hit me. I told her in the past I would more than likely react and hit them back. However, today I am about promoting peace. I did admit to her though that sometimes my initial reaction is to want to scrap a little, but unless it is needed to defend myself, I chose today to try and make peace. That doesn’t mean I have to be passive though. I asked her if someone tried to hit her before. She stated that was true and sometimes she would hit back. Maybe the other kid needed a good pop to put her or him back in place. If it was a boy- all the more-lol!

Like mother, like daughter

Actually, at one time I wondered where I got my spunkiness from. Well my aunt told me that when my mother and her were kids a boy started picking on her. My aunt just wanted to walk away, but my mother refused! She actually fought the boys and beat them up. Yes, boys.  There were two!  My mother did tell me this story once before and now my aunt has confirmed it. Wow- a real Vietnamese Cowboy, I mean Cowgirl! Cowboy is the term used here for people who cause trouble or act a little wild and crazy (in a bad way). Ha-ha, but I like to think of cowboy as the true sign of toughness (strength) as my mother. She doesn’t cause any trouble for anyone, but won’t put up with any either! Love it! Ooppsss….going against my promoting of peace-lol!

Tet-honoring of your ancestors:

 

Every year at Tet food is put out, incense is burned, and prayers are said in remembrance of your ancestors. It is the anniversary of the passing of your parents. You also place spirit money, notes, and other items at the alter. See pictures below of my Aunt, Uncle, and I honoring their parents.

   

The fourth picture shows the mixing of the old and new. Here we are continuing the practice of honoring the ancestors while all around us are a bunch of kids playing games and hanging on the internet. Although I am not opposed to being modern, I wonder how much any of these kids really understand or appreciate about this practice of old we were conducting right before them.

 

I am in front of my grandparents burial and a bunch of kids wanted a picture with me.

I have five lives left:

This year is recognized as the year of the Cat. Well, I’ve been saying the lucky Cat and fortunately for me on this trip. I’ve had a bad injury, helped bring down some Cowboys (long story, will explain later), almost crashed twice on a motorbike (another story I may tell later); and so this is why I am glad it is the year of the cat. I say this because I think I lost four of my lives already and only still five left. I need all five to get me back to the U.S!!!!

Yesterday’s weird occurrence:

Yesterday morning I woke up from a dream. A dream that was so strong and clear, as if it were real and I could not shake it. I wondered why I would have such a dream not only in content, but how it stayed within my spirit. The dream was about this girl who was about to get married, but was torn by another man that she loved. I kept telling this girl she needs to go with her heart and who she truly loves. She said that her family expects her to go with this other man. I told her she has to live her life and not a life of regrets. She lives her life for her, not her family. Very strange dream, but had no idea why I would have it and feel the attachment to it as I did.  Two hours later it was all confirmed. I met with someone I know (only a little) and have not seen in years later that morning. During our conversation she tells me about her getting married and……..yes, the same exact situation as in my dream. Wow! So I encouraged her about her situation as I had done in my dream.

Two other weird occurrences:

 

John and I ate at an Indian restaurant. One of the guys who works there wanted to jump in on the picture. All the Indian staff kept looking at me. I belive they thought I was Indian. That’s what almost everyone around here seems to believe. Read more below.

Well, I have this new friend John who lives near Danang. Knew him through Facebook only and we have some mutual friends. The 2nd week I was in Saigon I seen his Facebook posting about crusin the streets in Saigon. So I message him to get together for coffee. It didn’t seem to come together and then he had to go to Cantho (in the delta) for his work. I thought- oh well, wasn’t meant to be. A few days later after I thought he was long gone I happened to be walking back to my hotel from picking up my bus ticket to Cambodia. I was just not even five minutes home and all of a sudden a motorbike pulls up behind me. Yep, in all of Saigon here is John! He actually never met me in person and was able to recognize me as he was crusin by! So we chatted for close to an hour.

Almost a month later when I was in Danang, a friend and I went to go for breakfast.  Sure enough in all of Danang, guess who?!?!?!?! Yep, John cruises right by us and recognized me again and stops us! If this happens a third time, I would really have to wonder-lol! Actually, he is a good Dude and I know it was meant to be for us to finally meet.

There is work to be done and I need your help!

Sometimes a person has to wonder intentions. Are others really in it for the people or themselves? Are they willing to work as true partners and as a team? Are they truly willing to give “credit where credit is due” or take all the credit? Are they willing to give and take? Is there sincerity and humility involved? Do they view the people they are working with as capable people who just need a little hand up and not just viewed as the poor people the mighty Westerners need to rescue? Does it become a freak show- all just for show? To make it all  look good, or rather who?

I am tired of the false advocacy on behalf of people including with “programs” in America. The claim is advocacy, but they do not include the very people’s voices they claim to advocate for- in it. They talk around them as if they are not even there. Where are their voices? That is true advocacy & they know their stories and needs better than anyone else.

Our philosophy and principles ARE sustainable.

Coming to an end

I am looking forward to seeing my husband again, but also sad to be leaving. Two  months actually flew by fast. In the future more mission trips will be made and a person may apply to be a part. Check back for future postings.

Below are a few more family pictures:

 

Hanging with my aunt and uncle while they sell soup.

 

My aunt and cousins in first picture and then me with my other cousin also named Thuy. She is the most patient, peaceful, humble, and compassionate person. Every morning and every evening she meditates. She has taken good care of me as all of my family & friends in Vietnam have while I get over my injury.

Chuc Mung Nam Moi- 2011!