Thursday, January 8, 2009

Final Thoughts & Thank You

Wow, I can not believe that 18 weeks ago tomorrow, a group of us meet with Tim & Monica Cypert about Lost Orphans and a potential trip to Vietnam. I remember the fire in Tim's eyes as he shared the mission and the details of the emerging organization. I knew then that I was to go on the trip, but was too scared to admit it then. I remember Tim saying that if 4-5 people commit to go the trip would be on.

Funny that 17 weeks later when we finally reached the community, there were 20 of us. I am thankful that I am surrounded by a group of friends that help me see clearly. I have always said I am a better coach than player; I like to challenge people, but people like Bill, Aaron, Mike, and Brian are good at throwing it back at me. It was clear to several of us that we were being called to go, but all had doubts, that is until He, decided to squash them in a matter of hours.


I have learned so many things on this journey, many I still have not been able to digest, and others that I don't know what do with yet. But the one thing reinforced in my life is never put Him in a box. I am now challenged with what to do in my daily life to continue to live true faith. Going on the trip and being faithful is one thing, while there you have very little to distract you from the mission, but at home, well, we all have a million things to do. I think the next step for me has to be to care for the "least and lost" in my everyday life that I typically ignore and to work us unto Him so as to be a good steward with the many blessing I have.

Below is a note I wrote to a few people who supported us on the trip, however I realize that there are so many more that supported us in thoughts and prayer, some of whom I may not even know. so this is for you as well and thank you.

I just wanted to say thank you to all who have supported this trip. Your donations and prayers are very appreciated and went to a great cause. I invite you to check out my blog at http://sixnineten.blogspot.com to see evidence of the work God is doing in Vietnam through your support.

Over 400 families received food and money provisions; we were able to give every family at the food distributions a 22 lb bag of rice, 1 lb of sugar, 1 liter of fish sauce (protein), and a 5 Lb box of noodles. This along with the equivalent of $6 US will feed a family of 4 for 2-3 weeks. We also gave much needed clothes and shoes as well as balls and small toys. We also handed out over 400 Vietnamese Bibles.

All this was in addition to the supplies and love we shared with the kids at the Community in Vietnam. That community is the orphanage that the Lost Orphans organization supports. There are currently 49 children there and 1 expectant birth mother. There are also I believe 5 ladies who have recently had babies that are living and working there and will probably leave their babies there, because they have no way to care for them. The day we left another young lady stopped in who was expecting and agreed to give her baby over to the Sisters who run the community, this girl had the baby yesterday and they asked Tim Cypert to be the god father, sponsor the baby, and name the child. We had so much fun loving on these children and spending time with the them. We were able to provide them with some new clothes, shoes, took them for ice cream, and to the beach.

I was encouraged after seeing the community, these kids may or may not get adopted at some point, but regardless they will have the best care. They get a very nice home/facility to keep them safe, they get to eat 3 meals a day, they get to go to school (which is not free and many kids in families to do even get to do this), and the organization is working on a way to send them to college. The Sisters provide love, education, discipline, and teach the children about Christ's love. In many ways these kids have more opportunity than a large portion of the children living with families in Vietnam. Some of the older kids were left at the community as toddlers or young children and have heart wrenching stories. 4 of these children, the oldest are girls ages 5-7, they were the hardest to reach at first, but gradually came to trust us. These girls are beautiful and I am hopeful of a bright future for them. The rest of the group was either born into the community or left there as babies. It was awesome to watch the way God organized the team, with a diverse mix of people with different talents and passions. Everyone had a place that they naturally fit, so all aspects of the trip and the service were covered.

I again appreciate you willingness to be part of this, and know that I was blessed far beyond anything I could have imagined. I know that we don't have to travel literally to the other side of the world to see what I saw, but there is something to serving the least and the lost outside of our comfort zone. It challenges in ways you can not anticipate and removes barriers and strips you bare. I hope you all have been blessed in supporting us, that is my prayer for you, and I pray that God shows you and your family favor.

We are all called to give, pray, and go, though not everyone can do all at the same time, so I challenge each of you to continue to get uncomfortable and answer the question " wanna go?" as often as you can. Also please let me know how my family can support you as your walk down the roads God has put you on.

In Him

Michael Henry

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Gal 6:9-10

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Leprosy & The Beach

Day 4- Jan 2, 2009

This was our last full day in LaGi with the Sisters and the kids. It was by far the most fun day we had. We started the day by picking up the Sisters and 2 of the kids. Twins My (Me) and Dat. They were all dressed up, My is a beautiful little girl, who I think is almost 3. we went of to a remote mountain village that is government sponsored for an ethnic minority group. We provided provisions for 96 families and again the people were very grateful and it was a joy to bring them a blessing.

The Vietnamese people are a very sturdy and strong group. They also surprised us with their strength. The other thing I noted was their sense of community, it seems they looked out for each other, I guess as a matter of survival.

We also toured a few homes in the area, which were the homes of some men who have Leprosy. These men live in huts outside the family home. It was very difficult, because at first it was very awkward. The men thought we were there to make a spectacle of him, but the Sister explained, that we wanted to pray for him and talk to him about Jesus. This turned the situation around, as he explained that he knew Jesus and wanted to Bible to read. So we presented him with the Good Word and prayed over him. It was very surreal seeing him and imagining what it would be like to be afflicted with such a horrible condition. But God is good and this man was filled with joy from the encounter.



After our work, we had lunch and went to the community (Orphanage). There we loaded up 20 of the kids and headed to the beach. The sisters were able to round up 7 mopeds and we got to jump on them and ride the 10 miles to the beach. It was crazy, 14 adults an 5 kids on 7 mopeds....now that is Vietnamese style!! See in Vietnam the main mode of transportation is a moped..though these are more like a cross between a moped and motorcycle. The Vietnamese will carry an entire family on 1 moped, so 2 adults and 2-3 children will be on 1 moped!!! The craziest part is that only the adults are required to wear helmets!!!!!

I drove with Kim Cook, my dad had Jennifer Wurster, Frank had Lauren Burden, Aaron drove Bill and Nhoung, and so on. We were quite a site rolling through town and attracted alot of strange looks and laughs from the locals. We also were blessed that no one was injured, even though there were many wrong turns and of course we drove in Vietnam where there are no real driving laws.


At the beach we had a great time, the older girls were timid at first, but soon trusted us and went out into the surf with us. It was a little chili, and as you can see the kids do not have swim suits. The waves were pretty big with a massive undertow, we tried to body surf and got slammed into the bottom so many times, I ended up with sand burns all over!



We also engaged a few locals in beach/surf soccer. It was very funny, a bunch over big out of shape very white Americans against very lean locals! They however thought we would be easy targets and underestimated us. All of us have or currently play soccer, so we surprised them a bit. It was a fun time and they were all great sports, after the short game we shook hands and embraced, it was amazing. We were in Vietnam, on a beach, playing soccer in the winter!
The Sisters even got in on the beach day, as you can see below with Frank. They wore shirts that First Melissa gave them on the last trip.



It was a great time and we bonded with the children even more during that time. Please go to www.lostorphans.org and see how you can help support these kids!

video video



Running from the Commies!!

Day 3 New Years Day




Our third day in Vietnam was amazing. We started the day by going out to a remote village near the mountains. We were not able to get the bus down the dirt road to the distribution point, so a local brought his ox drawn cart to help. We loaded it up and went on down the road!

Once we unloaded and began the distribution, we were having a blast handing out food, clothes, candy, and toys. I was asked to say a prayer and it was translated; what an awesome experience to pray over people in another country and pry the peace and love of Christ upon them. The Sister then explained that we had Bibles for anyone who wanted it, that triggered an angry response from some who were not allotted to get food that day. The Sisters have a system in place to identify those who really need help and those just looking to get an easy score. So many show up who were not invited, the sister visit with them and if they are truly needy they will make provision for them, but if not they are turned away. Apparently one of these turned away heard the comment about the Bibles and called the authorities. It is illegal to share the gospel in Vietnam, the phone call was overheard and so we had to pack up our stuff, leave the provisions in the hands of the local leaders and scramble out of there. I am not sure we were in any real danger, as the area we were in was pretty remote and we had plenty of time to leave. But it was exhilarating to think that we were breaking communist law for the sake of Christ!

The next stop was at a seaside village, where many very poor people reside. These people would be considered homeless in the States. However in Vietnam the government provides shelter, but no food or water. Where as we provide food and water then shelter. So we traveled to the area to feed about 120 families along with the help of the local Red Cross. Aaron was asked to pray at this stop. We had a great time interacting with the people and helping them carry their provisions. These people were so grateful and happy we were there, but also had a great spirit about them and dignity.



It was a moving experience, as Frank is pictured with a former leader of the S Vietnamese military, who was stripped of all property and status after the war, yet still organized and lead this group with dignity. I was asked to help this man (18 yrs old)to be carried along with his provisions to his family. He is one of many children born severally incapacitated because of the effects of the chemicals used during the war. It has become so apparent that while the US suffered a severe emotional, mental, and physical loss in the war, the Vietnamese suffered so much more. Regardless of your opinion of the war and the politics involved, the toll on these people is tragic. There are parts of the country side still devastated by our herbicides and a large portion of a whole generation of men is dead. And those still alive are handicapped from a war injury or face other obstacles. We saw very few 40-60 year old men who were fully functioning and healthy.

We ended the day by taking the oldest children 2+ year olds out to a local cafe for ice cream. Here is Hoa (Huh-Wha) waiting for her ice cream. She is 5 and full of life and energy!
It was a great day filled with hard work, excitement, and ice cream....what else can you ask for in a day? We were far more blessed this day than those we served.












Saturday, January 3, 2009

Working with the Least and the Lost


Day 2
We went to the hospital and served rice soup to the families of the patients and then also gave them 20,000 Dong (equal to $1.50 ) the hospital does not provide food for patients or the families. So the sisters d this 5 days a week.





We then went to the cemetary that the sisters have purchased plots in to bury unknown war heroes and also the aborted babies.
We also saw the grave of a 3 month old orphan that was sick and died the day we arrived. I was moved by the grief Sister Mia and the other nuns, not that I would not expect them to be sad, but they were crushed. I shows the love and devotion that these sisters have for the children.














We ended our afternoon with a food distibution to the families of the disabled. Many of which were affected by our use of Agent Orange during the war, which they say passes on genetically. Regardless it was very emotional and watching these people come in, many being carried, wheeled, or on crutches. We gave them a 22 lb bag of rice, 1 liter of fish sauce, a 5 lb box of noodles, a 1 lb bag of rice, and 100,000 dong ($6).










These pictures are of 2 of the older girls, Tram and Ngung.