We learned from our friends about these giant twist ties from Home Depot that could be used as book or tablet stands. So here it is holding Caleb's hefty English textbook up so he could do his exercises. I love it!
Personal space is pretty much a nonexistent concept in this country from standing in line at the supermarket to building houses! Here is a picture taken from our balcony of some guys securing a large blue tarp to two neighboring houses in order to give shelter to the construction workers who are building supposedly another house in the empty lot in between... Surprises abound where we live, so we learn to depend not on our changing environment but on the One who changeth not!
We came back to Dalat at the end of summer only to find out the landlord did not install any water tank and the water pressure had only gotten worse. We continued to experience interrupted showers. Finally we got a handy man recommended by a brother and installed a water tank and pump for a good price. The handy man told us our area is notorious for water pressure problems and most every house has a water tank and/or pump. Here is a picture of the nice blue plastic water tank we got which is half the price of the more popular metal ones that are mounted on roof tops. This plastic one rests in our front porch and a water pump is used next to it to get the water up the pipes. We've been enjoying uninterrupted showers for a couple weeks now. We don't know how long this system would last, as is with any thing in Vietnam, but bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all His benefits!!
|Picking fruit from plum tree in backyard|
Caleb's cousins from Texas visited and stayed with us for the past three weeks. We enjoyed some camping at Big Basin, family reunions, swimming, and more...
|A visit to IHOP|
|Camping at Big Basin|
|All the kids|
|The Dao clan|
|Summer fun in the pool|
|Enjoying the Great Mall|
|At Majestic Park|
Sorry we have left our blog unattended for a few months. To compensate, we have pictures from Easter to Graduation here for your enjoyment...
|Boys coloring Easter eggs|
|Sharing Easter with friends|
|Caleb learning the guitar|
|Graduating our first batch of students|
|Our sister graduating|
The first year when our family traveled to Vietnam, our suitcases contained shampoos and conditioners, deodorant, vitamins, and all sorts of medicines among many other things we did not think we could find in Vietnam. Four years later, most items we bring with us are Caleb's homeschooling materials. We still bring vitamins and some meds, but I have learned to get the basic common ones here in Vietnam. For a mild headache, I would take Panadol which is equivalent to Tylenol. But for a bad ache, one can actually find Advil and Aleve here, but not in a new bottle. I go to the local pharmacy and tell them I would like to get some Advil, then they would go to the back of the store and bring out this big dusty bottle (most items you buy at the stores here are dusty) of Advil that has been opened, ask you how many you would like, and cinch them up in a little plastic bag with a rubber band. I do ask to see the bottle to check for the expiration date and ingredients etc. And the bottles do look genuine and are in a recognizable packaging from Advil. So there, I get my Advil for my cramps and Andy gets his Aleve for his back pain.
For over four years in Vietnam, I managed not to have to call to order gas when it runs out since each time it happened Andy was home for the rescue. (Here people cook with portable propane gas stoves.) Yesterday Andy was out taking a student back to her hometown two hours away for an emergency in the family. In the middle of cooking dinner, the fire went out, and I knew what I had to do... I called the number on the tank and ordered a tank of gas. That I managed to say, plus our address. But when the lady asked me what color the tank was, I realized there are different ones like red, blue, and gray etc. for different sizes I believe. Ours was the gray one, but I didn't know what "gray" was in Vietnamese! But, I did know "red, blue, black, and white." So I told her literally, "Not color red, not color blue. Color black and white." Voila! A grey tank of gas was delivered within a half hour! Learning to survive in Vietnam still...
December through March is the dry season here and we are experiencing a lot of water outages these days. It has lasted from a few hours to over a day at times. Houses often have these rooftop water tanks that would give them some margin when there is an outage. Unfortunately, our landlord did not deem it worthy to install one, so many mornings we would wake up to find out we have no water without knowing when it would come back. Here's one of those sunset pictures that Caleb likes to take these days, and it shows those water tanks on rooftops.
This was our first year living off-campus, and at midnight lunar New Year's Eve, I was woken up by surprise by fireworks at the lake nearby. We were half awake while snapping pictures of the whole thing which lasted over 15 minutes. Lunar new year is a big event here!
Happy New Year of 2013 to our friends and family. Here are some pictures from the past month of enjoying the Lord's blessings here in Vietnam:
|Cookie packages I made for Andy's students|
|Introducing the white elephant gift exchange game to students|
|Baked some brownies for students who tasted it for the first time|
|A mini-foosball table for entertainment|
|Singing some Christmas songs after a good dinner with students|
|Visiting a 93-year-old lady and singing Christmas carols with her|
|Caleb's two friends playing with bananagram tiles their own way|
Our time with students often revolves around meals since Vietnamese love to cook! And many meaningful conversations and relationships also come from these gatherings.
|New year lunch made by students|
|Meal with students|
|Meal with flock|
Caleb's been into taking pictures lately and has captured many interesting facts of nature. We learned about the parasitic wasp that lays eggs in the caterpillar's skin and how the larvae later hatch out of the skin and make their own cocoons, the bagworm that builds its home with wood and silk and carries it wherever it goes, and the spiny orb-web spider.
|Caleb discovered this caterpillar infested with parasitic wasp larvae (did not know until we googled)|
|Caleb's obsession of spider webs|
|Caleb's pet spider enjoying his meal|
|Caleb's new pet bagworm|
|Caleb's been trying to feed him each day|