Inhale. Exhale. Aaaahhhhh….
This week has been…amazing. Exhausting. Faith-building.
Where are the words?
First of all, we have had several emails from Michael, which was completely unexpected and altogether thrilling. Their work in Vietnam is going very, very well. Here are a few excerpts:
I met one of the directors and one of the ophthalmologists this morning. I toured and saw there clinic, OR, eye ward and took some good pictures. They have a phaco machine (cataract surgery machine) that they have had for 6 months. It was pretty interesting to see how they do things. I even saw a couple of patients with them.I am going to do lectures on diabetic retinopathy and cataract surgery. I pray that it will go well, but I think overall it’s the beginning of bridge building. I go to the National Institute of Ophthalmology and the orphanage tomorrow so another busy day. The team is great and we have had some good bonding already and are sure to do lots more. We are in all different places today so we’ll hook back up tonight. The glocal ventures staff is great. I’m with Tan (pronounced Dun) now and he is a great help. It’s definitely a different world here in Vietnam and a short e-mail can’t begin to describe it all, but I’ll take lots of pictures, try to journal, and tell you as much as possible when I get home.
It has been a fascinating day. We met the GVI team Sherman, Tan, Huong, and Giang (pronounced Zang), this morning for breakfast at a restaurant at a nice hotel. They had a buffet and American food as well so had some pho bo (fuh bah) which is a noodle soup with beef as well as some eggs, bacon, and hash browns! It’s pretty amazing here. The streets are lined with street vendors selling soup, fresh fruit, meat, veggies and there are shops everywhere selling anything you can imagine. The traffic is something to behold with taxis, motorbikes, bikes, pedestrians, and more motorbikes darting this way and that with seemingly no rhyme or reason.This afternoon I gave my lecture on cataract surgery and showed some of Dr. O’s videos. It went well and seemed well received. There were 20-30 in attendance. Then I observed a cataract surgery with a doctor who had come over from the national eye institute where I will be visiting tomorrow morning. He was an excellent surgeon and finished in about 10 minutes. There basic equipment is similar to the US but the OR and hospital were very different.
The meeting went very well this morning. I met the director of the institute, the head of the pediatric ophthalmology dept., and the head of preventive eye care. We met first and then I toured the hospital a bit and then saw several pediatric patients with the head pedi. ophthalmologist. She was very happy that I came as I think they get very few visitors that are pediatric specialists as much of the emphasis with outside groups is in treating cataracts. I think there are some definite possibilities for partnering with them by teaching when we come over. Possibly seeing difficult patients and even operating with them. From talking with them, they are very supportive of us helping in Lao Cai province as there was previously a program there with a group in Thailand and the Lions Club but that program terminated and they don’t have funding anymore. They expressed that they would want us to partner long term if possible and that’s what we want to. They mentioned the need to train doctors from the provinces in basic refraction to be able to provide glasses for children as they said they were very weak in this area.So there are lots of possibilities and hopefully things will begin to take more shape over the next few months now that we have made these contacts.We are in Sapa in the northern province of Lao Cai. We went to two of the villages by motorbike yesterday. Very primitive and quite an adventure. It is beautiful in the mountains here! Exquisite. Today we met together for a service and then did some shopping in the market. Tomorrow we will go back to Ta Van village for hygiene training and vision screening. We’re expecting to screen 150 kids in about 3 hours. In the afternoon Sherman, Tan, Giang, and I will travel back to Lao Cai city to meet with the doctors there. We will meet with them on Tuesday and maybe Wednesday. The others will relax Tuesday in Sapa or do another hygiene session at a school in Lao Chai (another nearby village). Then back to Hanoi on Wed. night
And on the homefront, we are holding up well. A friend of mine commented about the “sacrifice” I was making to be without Michael for almost 2 weeks, but honestly, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all. I get the sense that this is a family calling. It takes all of us to pull this off, and even though Michael is the one who is overseas and doing all the hands-on work, God has called me to support him, and He has faithfully provided incomprehensible strength and patience to do what I need to do at home.
Of course, it helps that my mom took all three kids to their house on Saturday afternoon for a sleepover! She left with them around lunchtime, and after I ate lunch, I thought I would go lay down for a few minutes. TWO AND A HALF HOURS LATER, I woke up! And this morning, I didn’t get out of bed until 9:30! I think I was more tired than I realized!
I drove to Rockwall late this afternoon, and before going to my parents’ house to get the kids, I stopped to see my friend, Courtney, and her precious baby boy, Judah. Joel was at church, but Courtney and I had such a fun visit. She is such a genuine, dynamic, creative person – I think our short hour together was savory food for both of our souls!
So once again, the house is quiet with the silence of sleeping children, and I breathe deeply. Inhale. Exhale. Aaaaahhhh…
Six more days!