Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year of 2010!

Caleb lost another one of his pearly whites while eating sweet'n sour chicken this time...

Wishing our family and friends a blessed new year of 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Rejoicing over one

Seven students came with us to the Christmas Eve celebration tonight, and we rejoice together over one who made the turn. What a wonderful Christmas gift!

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family!

Monday, December 7, 2009

We have fun too

Yes, we do have fun here too. In the picture you can see us in bumper cars at a local park that we visited as a team last week. It was a relaxing trip. The boys swung on swings. We sang songs together. And I even spotted the "shy grass" which I hadn't seen since childhood in Hong Kong. We all had fun touching the leaves and watching them close.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A guest at the door

I usually sweep our front porch in the morning each day. One morning, as I lifted the door mat to sweep the floor, I found a little visitor resting underneath. Here's a picture of the little critter. I guess since the weather has been getting colder at night, a door mat can make a nice blanket for spending the night.


I came down with a cold with body aches, runny nose and all. But I am happy two students joined Andy and Caleb this morning at our favorite local place. PTL! They had lunch afterwards together and had some good conversations. And two other students came in the afternoon to take Caleb for an outing on campus. So Andy and I got to get some rest. PTL again! These same two students had come a few days ago to make Bun Cha Gio (Vietnamese eggrolls with rice vermicelli) for us. It was delicious. PTL!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Introducing pizzas

A group of students have been meeting with Andy on a regular basis. They were here yesterday afternoon to meet with Andy and also wanted to invite us to drinks at a cafe after dinner for Teacher's Day. So in return, we invited them to stay for dinner and ordered pizzas and other things (yes, some restaurants here actually attempt to make pizzas). For some of them it was their first time ever eating pizza! We had an extended time together from 3 to 9pm, and some significant conversations were had.

The uppers don't meet the lowers

Yep, Caleb's at that age...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some pictures of our living quarters

I've uploaded some pictures of our living quarters at Dalat University here. The building is provided by the University for their foreign teachers. There are 9 units in our building and we are in unit 5. In this building, there are two Korean families, our teammates Karen and the Rowleys, a single Korean teacher, a single American teacher, and us. Each unit has two rooms each measuring about 19 feet by 11 feet. We use the front room as our living room, dining room, and study area. The back room is our bedrooms, bathroom, and kitchen. Hope this gives you a better idea of where we live. Though these units were not built for families and do not have kitchen and individual laundry facilities, we do enjoy the security, serenity, and proximity to campus and students here.

Teacher's Day

In celebrating Teacher's Day in Vietnam (November 20), the university students put together a performance for all the teachers. The celebration for the Foreign Language Department was held last night. As our appreciation, Laura, Karen, and I represented the team by singing "Be Thou My Vision" in our Ao Dai's.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sharing a bed

In Vietnam sharing a bed is done not only by couples. Here is a picture showing partially our bed which is also our "bedroom" with a makeshift "bedroom door" I sewed from a nice piece of fabric I found from what our teachers from last year had left behind. Caleb sleeps right above in the loft. We are happy in this space. Andy visited three students the other day who share a rented room together. Many students here are from outside of Dalat from all different parts of Vietnam and so they need to rent here while away from family. These three students cook, study, and sleep in this one small room. And there is only one bed that is even smaller than the one we have. Andy was told the three of them need to sleep sideways each night in order for them to fit. It makes me appreciate the space I am given so much more.

Farmer's Market

Here "Farmer's Market" happens everyday. Dalat is famous for its abundant supplies of fresh flowers and veggies.

Vietnamese Hot Dogs

We'd seen these sold on the streets but had never tried them until three of Andy's students came over to make them for breakfast for us one morning. They are called "hotdogs" here but are simply sausage cooked inside batter in a waffle iron. The students brought the batter in a bucket on their motorbike, together with all the other ingredients plus the waffle iron! They got to work right away and Caleb enjoyed a delicious breakfast.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I googled on the strange creature and found out it was a bagworm. Very interesting creature.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Strange creature?

Caleb noticed something hanging from the underside of the railing outside our room today as we were heading out. It looked like some tiny twigs stacked in an orderly fashion and Caleb noticed something like a worm sticking its head out the base. We had no idea what it was. When we came home he noticed that the whole structure had moved to another location. Anyone knows what it could be?

Couple more Da Lat pictures

Cho Da Lat is the huge market in the center of Da Lat that sells all sorts of things from fruits and veggies to meats, clothes, toiletries, flowers, souvenirs and more. Bananas are in abundance here as well.


Here's Andy training two future champions.

Ginger yogurt

Yes, this is what I saw at the Dalat Food Store today. Just tried it and it is delicious!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

OT names

I've been using the MCheyne chart for daily reading for a few years now (thanks Lois!) and Caleb has been joining me for the past two years. I do not want to be too ambitious so I only do two of the four passages each day, and I read aloud one of those two to Caleb. As we were given the choice of either an OT passage or an NT passage, Caleb and I both selected the OT together. We just finished 2 Kings today, and will be on to 1 Chronicles. As Caleb looked ahead today to the chapter for tomorrow, he exclaimed, "Mommy, you are in trouble." I asked why. He said, "Just look at those names." It's not unusual since I've already "suffered" through Numbers and Kings. But this time I may need to ask Andy for the recordings he has on his mp3 player instead... On a serious note, it's truly a treasure to read through the OT (and the whole book for that matter) with a child.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Can I top that performance?

Adrianne came to observe my class the next day. After that nice stunt that Karen pulled in class the day before, I was asking myself how I could top that performance!
I remember last year in Haiphong, I almost fell off the platform several times in class too. I am thinking that the longer you teach in VN, the higher the odds of your pulling the same stunt. It's bound to happen sooner or later. You just hope that there wouldn't be Vietnamese teachers observing you when it happens!
Here are a few pictures of Adrianne and me in class today. No, I didn't fall off the platform, but I was caught on camera screaming at the class and students. Enjoy...

Students were trying to guess where Adrianne comes from.

Adrianne listening to a student's pronunciation.

Me screaming at a student.

Me screaming at the class.

Me screaming at the class, again!

Once in a while, our job is fun...

Adrianne from Hanoi came to Dalat this week to visit us and also to observe our classes so that she could help us improve in our teaching. We get observed at least once every semester. Yesterday, Adrianne observed Karen's class, so I took the opportunity to sit in as well. And I am glad I did because it was a once in a lifetime experience. Below is an email from Karen describing what happened. The title of her email was "The Pride comes Before the Fall..."

…OR does the Fall come before the Pride?

Oh boy,

Yesterday was a pretty crazy day.

~I said goodbye to my friend Nancy who came to Da Lat from Hanoi to visit me,

~I had class 45 minutes after she left,

~Two people were observing my teaching,


~I totally fell in front of my freshmen class.

So here’s the story of my fall.

I had just gone over attendance for the freshmen class and I put a stack of papers for the next activity on the corner of the desk.

**Now I’m not sure if you know this, but there are “stages” or small platforms in the front of most Vietnamese classrooms. Usually it is a thin strip the length of the chalkboard with a desk in the corner and one or two steps going up.

This was my second time in the new classroom building. I think I’m use to a stage with a longer elevated platform near the desk – that’s my excuse anyway.

I picked up the papers on the corner of the desk and started talking about how I was going to choose five people to come up to the front of the class.

I took a step forward and before I knew it, I fell about a foot off the stage.

I’m not quite sure what hit the tile floor first – maybe my elbows or maybe my face. All I know is that my legs were in the air over my head, papers were flying everywhere, and students were leaping out of their desks to help me.

I tried my best to jump up quickly from the craziness and tell them that I was okay. I was more embarrassed than hurt. There were tears streaming down my face and I was laughing so hard it was difficult for the students to know what to do or think. They were all so concerned and worried for me but I kept telling them that I wasn’t hurt. The only thing that was hurt was my PRIDE. I don’t know why I was crying, it all happened so fast.

Not only did I fall for the first time in my five years at Da Lat University AND in front of my fifty freshmen, but I did it with two observers watching.

The observers in the back are my friends so it was more funny than embarrassing.

Adrianne had her head down making notes and she didn’t even know that I fell. She heard a commotion then looked up and said, “Where did Karen go?”

Andy (my teammate) kindly let Adrianne know that I fell.

After a few minutes of me dusting off my pants while the students picked up all the stray papers and doting upon me, I continued my lesson with “grace and poise.”

We all kept laughing throughout the whole three hour lesson. Whenever we were reminded of my fall, I would make a joke and they would laugh.

I made it though and have yet again another klutzy story to share with my friends and family.

I’m really okay, don’t worry. I called my mom and she was concerned but I was laughing the whole time I was telling her. She asked if anyone got it on video.

Sadly, I can’t submit it to America’s funniest home video because no one was taping me at the time.

I just wanted to share a small part of my life in Vietnam with you where every day is a surprise.

Oh yeah, and after I came home I looked in the mirror and realized that the clips in my hair also did a little tumble and part of my hair was sticking up the whole rest of the lesson.

Oh well. That’s Karen for ya.

I’ve realized that I’ve had a lot of situations where my pride was hurt, but that best part of getting over it is to laugh.

I just have to tell you… I’ve laughed A LOT in Vietnam. J

Here are two pictures of the classroom “stage”

(Insert mental picture of Karen falling)

You can see that there isn’t a lot of space on the stage where the desk is placed in this room.

Oops. Yep. I was pretty close to hitting my head on those desks too. But I didn’t. J

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Here are some pictures of the snakes in our backyard. I am wondering if that fire did anything to them.


A controlled burning of grass and weeds and perhaps snakes in the back of our building today almost turned into a real fire. The man setting the fire had to ask us to help splash water up the back wall. Our neighbor Tony with the orange bucket in the picture has always wanted to be a firefighter!

Homeschool update

Both Caleb and Andy are both recovered and we are so thankful for His sustaining grace. Caleb now resumes a more consistent homeschooling schedule. For first grade science, he finished the study of animals and the human body, and we are moving on to plant science this week! We have learned so much together on this journey!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New updates

Thanks again for all your love and thoughts for our little boy. He's feeling a lot better today. No more fever, no coughs, and no diarrhea (yet) today. He's constantly asking for food, to make up for what he's lost in the past week.

One of Andy's students brought home-made yogurt from her mom a couple times. They are delicious! Caleb and I love it. You can see in the picture how each one is nicely packaged.

The second picture is of where we gather on Sunday mornings here in Dalat. It is the only one foreigners can attend. And what treat, there's translation in this one special pew. They provide headphones, but Caleb and I bring our very own personal ones. I am so grateful. Last year in Haiphong, the only translation offered was from my own beloved. And Caleb and I often sat and read our good Book during the Lesson.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Caleb's fever has been on and
off, and he is still coughing and having diarrhea. We are in the wait and see mode. Please ask for endurance for Caleb and for us as we wait upon His timing.

Here are another two pictures of Dalat: 1) The 5-way intersection at the bottom of the hill from the University (I often make a 10-minute walk down here to pick up household and grocery items) and 2) a view from campus overlooking houses and a distant huge white statue of some sort.

Andy continues to meet with students on a regular basis outside of the classroom. Caleb likes to sit in on these sessions sometimes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Thank you all for sending birthday wishes through FB. I am overwhelmed by your thoughtfulness. This 41st birthday of mine has been a memorable one because Caleb got sick with a 103-degree fever. He's been coughing again, and this time threw up quite a bit and is not keeping much food down both ways. So please do lift him up. Thanks! We've been singing "The lily of the valley" this week and he loves the chorus: "He's the lily of the valley, the bright and morning star, he's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul..."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Writing Chinese

The past couple of visits to Hong Kong have somehow piqued Caleb's interest in learning how to write Chinese characters. He sees them on signs everywhere in the streets. So my mom bought some notebooks with big squares used for writing Chinese characters for Caleb. He's started learning how to write some very simple characters these days as part of his homeschool.

Town pictures

Here are a few pictures of Dalat: 1) View of Xuan Huong Lake from beautiful park, 2) Statue at town center, and 3) Person sleeping in cauliflower basket at the Dalat Market.

Good "Pho"

Each time we ask for a recommendation of a good "Pho" place to go to, we are referred to some hole-in-the-wall type of eatery. We did sample a couple of them and they are indeed very good despite the sanitation. At these places, it is an option for trash to land on the floor or in the basket by each table. And their pet (cat shown here) will make sure nothing is wasted. What's more appetizing is the recycling system of the veggies and herbs shown here where leftovers are tossed back into the veggie bins to be served the next customer.

Nem Nuong

Here's a picture of a favorite Vietnamese meal of mine--pork sausages (nem nuong) wrapped with green veggies and herbs and pickles in rice paper dipped in special peanut sauce.