Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vietnam in a Coconut shell

I hate to think that something I’ve done is a waste. If things were my way, I would always learn something from the experiences I’ve had. I think that more than any other feeling or experience, I was determined to have something good come from my trip to Vietnam. It was on a quite street in Nha Trang that I forced myself stop and figure out why I had been feeling so down, so unlike myself. I had a revelation that night, and here’s what it was.

I realized that I had been so depressed about my situation because I was uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable with the language, uncomfortable being away from the familiar surroundings of Mae Sot, uncomfortable because I had no companionship, and uncomfortable because I was the only white person. As I sat there, it dawned on me that as a follower of Christ, I’m not really called to a life of comfort. I’ve been called to follow Jesus. As I reflected on this thought, I realized that Jesus didn’t live much of a comfortable life. During his ministry, he didn’t even have a place to call home. He didn’t have an apartment he could go home to at the end of the day. I doubt he even had a suitcase to carry his toothbrush in. It seems like if I have been called to be like Jesus, then I should be willing to live this kind of lifestyle. It was then that the blinders were taken off my eyes and I saw how selfish I had been. Instead of seeing what I could be doing to be a blessing to the people around me, I was self absorbed in my own pity party. From that point on, I saw things differently and I appreciated the country that Vietnam is. I also appreciated Thailand and what I have here.

To come back to Thailand was like taking a breath of fresh air. I felt so renewed, so refreshed for what is being done here. I also felt, without a doubt, that this is where God wants me to be right now. I think that has to be one of the best feelings in the world, to know that you are where God wants you to be. I’m thankful for the learning experience I had in Vietnam. I’m thankful that I got to spend time with my grandfather, who is such a cool guy by the way. But… I am so relieved to be back home. Here’s to the next nine months! Use me where you want me God. I am all yours.

Now… about that trip to the motherland.

Random happenings and observations: a compilation

  • Guaranteed, everyone will have a tooth pick in their mouths after every meal. Guaranteed.
  • There is the constant sound of honking and to step onto the street is to risk your life.
  • The iced coffee is 1/5 coffee, 2/5 sweetened condensed milk, and 2/5 ice. Delicious.
  • The food is out of this world spectacular.
  • Double dipping is not an issue. Everyone has a bowl of rice and chopsticks and shares the food in the middle.
  • You’re chased down the street by people trying to sell postcards, gum, and lottery tickets.
  • The hotel reception keeps your passport (is this normal?) and you see them entering the information onto a public computer.
  • It is completely normal to see a guy on a motorbike with a 35 lb. fish strapped to the back.
  • Anyone can be a donglionaire. 19,000 dong= 1 USD
  • If you listen carefully, you might pick up on your tour guide discussing different tasty meats including beef, pork, and dog
  • At a rest stop, my uncle bought ice cream and French bread and made me an ice cream sandwich
  • You’re caught off guard when you spot someone taller than 5’5. They literally tower over everyone else
  • No shirt, no shoes, no pants, no problem. Walking around in boxers is completely normal.
  • I walked into my aunt’s house and she immediately handed me a whole, chilled coconut with a straw sticking out the top. That’s hospitality.
  • They NEVER make it till your order it.
  • I think we drove past a Nazi graveyard at one point. Each tombstone had a swastika on it.
  • I saw a kid get hit by a motorbike when playing in the ocean. Yeah. Never seen anything like that before. Don’t worry. He’s okay.
  • Red lights are taken to mean yield signs here apparently.
  • What? You have to pee? Oh no problem, just pullover to the side of the road. Everyone does it.
  • Our bus had a microphone, so the tour guide had a little girl sit in front singing Vietnamese children’s songs while 14 adults clapped along, applauded enthusiastically, and shouted out requests.

My little nephew

Never felt closer to God then when I'm basking in his creation

Love the fruit in Vietnam :)

My grandfather and I caught in a slightly awkward photo moment

three cousins: Ngoan, Ly, and Trang

I accidentally got lice in Vietnam :/

I hope this doesn't count as ancestor worship

thanks for reading!


Peter Dutton said...

Katy, What a great post. I really enjoyed all your observations of Vietnam. Brings back so many memories. I also understand your feeling of joy upon returning to Thailand. Not that Thailand is any better than Vietnam (we used to argue about this as kids--between us Vietnamers and my friends who tended to come from Thailand), but coming back to the familiar, and the place God has put you has a special significance. By the way, that "Nazi" cemetery you mentioned.. you might know this already, but that symbol is actually different than the Nazi swastika. The arms are facing a different way. It is a Buddhist symbol that I have seen only in Vietnam (Mahayana Buddhist!) and not here in Thailand... Keep up the good work. Peter

roxanna grimes said...

I love reading your posts, Katie. I had a very dear friend who was a career "M" in Vietam. She died of cancer and I never got to visit her in country. I have always wanted to go that part of the world. Guy, my husband has been a couple of times and he's been to Thailand. Keep posting; you have great insights and you are quite the photographer!

Jim and Kelly said...

Katie! We miss you so flipping much! Laughed out loud (motorbike in ocean).
Can't wait to spend time with you again. We'll keep you posted.
Tell Yahmeen that Mila loves her.

Irene said...


You know your missionary is being transparent with you when she sends a photo of her de-licing.

Anonymous said...

God is doing wonderful things through you. It's funny to read about how comforting it was for you to get back to familiar Mae Sot. Months ago you couldn't have said that. Thanks for being an example to others by allowing God to move you where He wants you and to accomplish His will through you.