Our team arrived in Da Lat yesterday, all 7 of us and our luggage. Checking in at the airport in Hanoi was a bit hectic because there were so many people at the airport and we had so much luggage. We were 147kg over in allowed luggage and had to pay $150 extra. The flight, however, was very smooth, and we didn't lose any luggage.
We were greeted by nice and cool pleasant weather. The school had a van waiting at the airport to take us to the university, a 40-minute trip up the mountains. We were all happy to leave behind the humid air and overcrowded streets of Hanoi to welcome the nice breeze of the city of Dalat and the quiet wooded campus of the university.
The school official gave us the keys to our guest rooms and left, saying that Dalat will rain every day in the afternoon. Sure enough, just a couple of hours after we had moved into our rooms, it started pouring. We were rained in, so we called in our orders and had our lunch delivered. About an hour later, two guys came on a motorbike in raincoats with our lunch. All 7 of us had our first "team" meal together in Karen's room. It was a late lunch, so we ended up skipping dinner. After lunch, Karen took all of us on a walking tour and showed us the open market where we could get some fruits and vegetables, the different shops where we could get our cleaning supplies, her favorite store where she always goes to get rice, and her favorite "banh mi op la" stand. She also introduced us to some of those ladies at the stores and some of her students that we ran into on the streets. I bought some guavas for myself, dragon fruit and pomegranates for Grace and Caleb. We also bought 2kg of rice, some milk, bread, toothpaste, soap, and laundry detergent. We walked back, all tired, rested, and started cleaning, moving, and unpacking again.
We all had a long day, so most of us went to bed pretty early. I stayed up quite late, and got up at 7 the next morning and walked to church. I walked fast and it took 25 minutes, but I found it quite easily. The rest of the team was tired, so they didn't make it. On the way back, I bought two buckets and a small stool that we will use to do our dish washing. Oh, and I also stopped by a stand and tried my first "banh mi op la." Cleaning continued once I got back to the room. For lunch, our team took a taxi to "Cho Da Lat" and tried the food stalls on the second floor. Jeremy had a roasted chicken rice plate and said that was the best chicken he's had in VN so far. He was probably very hungry. After lunch we went shopping and bought salt, sugar, cooking oil, a pot, a pan, and more miscellaneous cleaning supplies. And I decided to bite the bullet and bought a brand new 2-burner gas stove because our room didn't have any. The guy drove his motorbike in the rain, carrying the box and gas tank and installed everything for us for 1.5 million. I tested, and it worked before I let the guy go. While he was installing the stove, our shower hose punctured. This was supposed to be a new hose the school just installed in our room, but we knew better and were not surprised. It was raining hard outside, and we were wondering how we would shower later on without a working hose. Well, God always provides, even when we don't have enough faith to trust in his provision. The guy finished installing the gas stove and offered to take me on his motorbike into town to get a new hose. I put on my poncho, my slippers, and the extra helmet the guy happened to have with him, and off we went in the pouring rain into town. The guy took me to a store where I bought a hose for 40k and drove me back to the room. I gave him 20k for gas and service, installed the new hose, and we had nice showers tonight.
Going through this exercise reminded us of similar experience last year. Moving into a new place, a new town, meeting new teammates, new merchants, new teachers, new students, and new officials; Cleaning, unpacking, finding creative ways to cope with challenging circumstances, and seeing God's faithfulness and provision at work. This is our second year in VN, and we're starting over. Caleb cried last night before bedtime because he missed home.