Friday, December 14, 2012

Merry Christmas from Vietnam!

I have been super delinquent in keeping up with updating our blog! To compensate, here are some highlights from our past couple months in Vietnam...and more pictures here, here, and here!

Andy visiting friends in the North
Moon cake made from scratch by student's mom
Birthday cake from students who know what sola gratia means
Birthday surprise graffitied in our alley
Caleb's favorite science museum in Hong Kong
Field trip to History Museum in Hong Kong
Terra cotta soldiers from China
Andy's new students at Ana Mandara, a local resort
Decorating new Christmas tree
Wishing you joy and peace this Christmas!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cooking chao tom

Students came over to make chao tom (grilled shrimp paste wrapped around sugarcane sticks) for us. It was delicious. This item is common in Saigon but not in Dalat. So when Andy told them about it, one of them learned how to make it and came to make it for us. What a treat!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I have a kitchen!

We've moved in to the new home for three weeks now. We are still getting used to the new place and new neighborhood as this is our first time living off campus after four years in Vietnam--with real local neighbors, dogs roaming around in the neighborhood, water and electric bills to take care of etc. And for the first time in four years, I have a kitchen, and a kitchen sink! No more washing on the floor or in the tiny bathroom sink.

The one thing that I did notice when we first saw the place was that there is no hot water at the sink. My heart kind of sank a little since even at the university guest house, we managed to pull the bathroom shower hose over to the sink for washing with hot water. I could not imagine washing dishes especially oily ones with plain cold water. My first thought was to install a water heater. But Andy said just wait for a week and see. Students and many families here don't even have hot water ANYWHERE in the home. Many of them just boil hot water for showering and washing dishes when needed. And here I talk as if it is a given to have hot water and that with a flip of a button I can just put in a water heater without thinking twice. So, so far, we've been filling a bucket with hot water from the bathroom and haul it to the kitchen sink for helping with dishes--another humbling experience living in a developing country and learning to be thankful...


Monday, August 27, 2012

Started school today

Caleb started school today! We managed to accomplish everything that was on our schedule: math, English, reading, writing, dictation, and history! Not sure if we can keep that up. I am already feeling I am coming down with a cold from all the unpacking and cleaning. But I am grateful we've moved in and set up most of the daily necessities. Pictures to come when I feel up to it :) Some students will be coming tomorrow to cook and hang out. That calls for flexibility and working around the schedule with homeschooling. Challenging, but I am learning how to handle it more each day. Praise unto His name.

A visit to orphanage

We took a trip to visit our friends at an orphanage last week. It was an hour bus ride away and it was a nice trip cooking lunch, making crafts, and playing games together.

Colorful bug right outside orphanage
Coffee beans

Girls cooking lunch
Boys working on flying bird project

Trying it out

In action
Watching bird in flight
Paul teaching Rachel how to read

Group picture

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New Home

We've moved in to our new place for five days now. Have been busy packing, cleaning, unpacking, and more cleaning! We are so thankful for your intercession and His Divine provision even though it was not at all easy. We've been back in Vietnam for merely a week, with jetlag and all, and it is amazing how so much can happen in a week. Here are a few pictures of the move and our wonderful and efficient moving crew. From loading the truck to unloading all boxes it totaled only one hour!


Students coming to help us move
Note truck driver's cigarette
Can't believe nothing fell out of the truck o n the way to new home
Wonderful moving crew in front of new home
First meal in our new home with our sisters
Saying goodbye to our newly harvested daikon at our university guest house

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What am I doing here

One knows she's back in Vietnam when she steps out of that airport, into the muggy humid air, into the sounds and smells that so overwhelm the senses, into the stares, into the closeness of bodies behind her at custom counters and in security lines. For each of the past four years, I hear myself asking the same question: What am I doing here? It is difficult to answer from a human point of view. It is. But I also know that after a couple of weeks, I won't be asking that anymore. Our Creator has given man amazing adaptability. However, I do not hope for myself to just adapt, but to be able to respond with joy. The same joy that was set before the Founder and Perfecter of my faith. The same joy that enabled Him to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2).


Wednesday, August 8, 2012


It is 5:45am at the Hong Kong International Airport. We just landed here for a three-hour layover connection to Ho Chi Minh City. Free wifi here at the airport. How about that.

Summer went by too quickly and we are already missing our friends and family. Thank you all for your love and support as we step into another year of trusting in the Sovereign's leading.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

He gave us Himself

Each summer before we come home, we would record testimonies from some of our flock and share it with friends back home as an encouragement. This past Sunday we were able to do that. Andy was able to share what the Father has done this past year in the lives of many. And I am continually amazed at the depths of understanding that our Father chooses to give these young people that He has entrusted to us.

One of the girls shared about her trials in the past year and how she had cried out to the Father time and again and yet her trials have not gone away. It appeared as if none of her requests for her struggles to lessen were granted. Upon hearing this, many mainstreamers would tend to answer, He has His good timing, He is teaching you perseverance, His grace is sufficient etc. all of which are truths. But what is most beautiful is at the end of her sharing, she said, "Even though He didn't give me what I asked, He gave me Himself."

Often times we can try to answer many questions in life with cliches, pop psychology, and even verses in scriptures that are truths and yet miss the big point in all of scripture. I am touched by how my sister has been blessed to see how He alone can satisfy. It is true that time has not come yet for her troubles to go away, it is true she will learn to persevere in all this, it is true that the Father's grace is sufficient to carry her through her tribulations, but in the end, is that what matters? Is the absence of pain and suffering in the right timing what matters? Is my virtue and long-suffering what matters most? Is knowing that He will pull me through with His help and by His grace enough? I too am learning that it is not. I too am being reminded that if my focus is still on the "thing" I am still missing the point, missing the beauty of it all. I too am praying that I can say with joy in the midst of my suffering that though He did not give me what I asked, He gave me Himself. To see and to savor our Creator is the uttermost joy. To the praise of His glory.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summer 2012

I've posted some pictures here from our summer so far. Sixteen more days and we will be heading back to Asia...



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New text books

Here are some of the text books I've ordered and received for Caleb's fourth grade homeschool in the fall.

For English this is our second year using the curriculum from Rod & Staff. We have enjoyed the foundation of Wise's phonics book The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and grammar book First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind for Caleb's kindergarten through 2nd grade, and Rod & Staff worked out for us last year for his 3rd grade so we are using it again this year. Though Caleb started reading at a very young age and is an avid reader, going through the basic grammar rules is still important. For the past year, he actually has even started writing stories and poems of his own. He is writing a series called The Adventures of Mary.

For math, we have been using Saxon math since kindergarten and he is on to fifth grade math this coming year. Though he loves science, Caleb is not as much of a lover of math as his parents are. Andy actually got a minor in math when he was in college since he loved it so much!

We have also enjoyed Bauer's The Story of the World series for history for a number of years now. I have learned so much reading with Caleb and have developed a better interest in the subject. We have gone from ancient times to the medieval period to the Renaissance and to the early modern period in a chronological order. We have finally arrived at American history this past year, after having built on a foundation of seeing history unfold not in a self-focused nor myopic way. The books are a joy to read!

For science, Caleb will be doing physics this coming year which includes experiments that we can do at home. Other subjects include spelling, writing (penmanship), art, music, plus a little Vietnamese and Chinese.

For the summer, I've only had Caleb work on some supplemental math practice and keeping up with piano. Other than that, he's just been enjoying seeing friends and family, going to the library, and just soaking up some California sunshine. I do very much look forward to starting the new school year, in a new home off campus in the same town. We have not yet seen the place we will be moving to except for pictures. But we trust this is the place the Lord has led us to and provided for us. And looking back at the past four years of homeschooling, I really saw God's goodness and faithfulness in it all. He has chosen the weak instrument to do His work.



Foods Caleb missed

Since coming home for the summer Caleb's been enjoying these foods that he missed in Vietnam (some fresh and some not so fresh):

Macaroni and cheese, In-and-out burgers, blueberries, raspberries, Jamba juice, Jello's, puddings, frozen dinners, McDonalds, string cheese, quesadilla, Campbell's soup, and more...


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Highlights

We've been enjoying time with friends and family back home for about a month now. Some highlights so far have been time with mom and dad in Hong Kong, my cousin's wedding in June, and Caleb's first camping trip with his little cousin Franklin. Click on links to see more pictures!

Lamma Island
Wedding in San Ramon
Pitching a tent


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Acts 18:10

It was a blessing to be at St. Andrew's this morning as a family singing songs and listening to the message in English!  It was wonderful to be reminded in the message of what our Father said to Paul: "...I have many in this city who are my people..."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Food to eat back home

Caleb is looking forward to being home in the US for the summer.  When I asked him for the list of foods he's looking forward to eating when he gets home, this is what he gave me:

  • Macaroni-n-cheese
  • Campbell's alphabet soup
  • McGriddle from McDonald's
What does that say?...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Solar Eclipse

Andy posted some pictures of the May 21 solar eclipse from our front door here taken at 5:20am.  Caleb and Andy witnessed it while I enjoyed my beauty sleep the whole time...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Boggle Time

Caleb's two friends Jimmy and Kevin (yes more and more Vietnamese kids are adopting English names here) come each Saturday morning to play.  Here they are enjoying a game of Boggle for the first time and are doing well.  They are both among the top students in this city who can speak English fluently.

Some banana cake treat for the boys

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Death's-head hawkmoth

We spotted this moth on our door mat this morning and Caleb quickly identified it as the Death's-head hawkmoth.  He and Dad decided to add it to Caleb's Bug Collection though I was reluctant...

A Vietnamese wedding

Reception menu

Wedding couple

Prawns in beer

Father of bride
The three of us caught some sort of a stomach bug for the past few days with Andy suffering the most.  However we were invited to a student's sister's wedding yesterday.  So I gave Andy Imodium beforehand.  Click here for some more pictures of the wedding.  Andy's glad he was able to eat!  We are all doing better now.