Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book stand

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!


Balloon Artist

Caleb's friend shared his balloon artistic skill with us in this making of a rose...


Fruit of the Land

We are often blessed with fresh produce from our students' gardens...


Four-Eyed Family

We are finally a full four-eyed family, all for $35, lens plus flexible and bendable frame...


Saturday, November 2, 2013

It's 6:30am, where is the family going?

to a wedding.

Call a Tow Truck?

9:30pm, a bit chilly out, just got out of the monthly outreach event, didn't drive more than 100 yards, got a flat, walked the bike about a mile, found a repair man on the sidewalk packing his stuff onto his bike getting ready to call it a day, made signs pointing at the back tire and showing an obvious pitiful desperate face begging him to stay for one more, he (short and shriveled, in his 60's, limping, wearing a big thick loose jacket, pockets full of screwdrivers and odd tools, hands stained black from engine oil) shook his head (he's deaf and mute), another old man nearby came to help entreat him to stay, 5 minutes of back and forth gestures later... I parked the bike up on the sidewalk, he took out the tube, it turned out more than just a puncture as the old man showed me the cracked rubber wall around the valve, he used a screwdriver that was in his hand and wrote the number "80" on the sidewalk concrete and then looked up at me, I nodded (thinking I would be willing to pay even 100), he stood up and walked to his bike, rummaging through a bag, and walked back to my bike with a new tube... 15 minutes later, I was on my bike driving home, relieved, and a happy smile on my face.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


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!


Water Tank

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!!


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cousins' Visit

Picking fruit from plum tree in backyard
Sweet plums

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






Hiking together


All the kids


The Dao clan





Summer fun in the pool


Enjoying the Great Mall


At Majestic Park


Time in Hong Kong

We spent a couple weeks in Hong Kong visiting my parents at the end of June...

Waiting for the 208 bus
First time ice skating at Elements


Enjoying some snacks and drinks


Celebrating birthday with grandma


Wednesday, June 26, 2013 Graduation

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
Their creation


Happy boys


Sharing Easter with friends


Caleb learning the guitar


Graduating our first batch of students
Our sister graduating



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Got a headache? No problem!

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.


Getting Gas

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...



Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Caleb is really into taking pictures these days, snapping shots usually of nature. Here is his bagworm munching on his lunch and some wasp he found lying on the floor.


Water outages

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.

Jello cake

A student's mom always makes these Vietnamese gelatin dessert at lunar new year. Here's one from this year's festivities. They imbed fruits in the gelatin and often have a layer flavored with coffee.


Lunar New Year

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!



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 2013 Updates

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)
Our housemate


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