Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Across the Miles

When we began Journeys of the Heart and this blog seven years ago, we did not dream that our work would offer us so many gifts.

Personally we have had the joy of meaningful work in our retirement. Writing our book, Back To Vietnam, about our adventures was a passionate exercise and the partnering in that endeavour was yet another layer of "glue" in our marriage. Although sharing our creative processes was challenging, edifying, frustrating and demanding it was ultimately rewarding.

We have continued to learn about ourselves and how the world works. We have met wonderful people and "adopted" a family. We have learned over and over again to be patient and trust that things will work out even when we are hopelessly lost geographically or emotionally.

One of the most precious gifts has been to witness and be connected with the behaviour of good people. Friends and family at home have been constant support for us personally and many have been faithful financial contributors to our many "causes". We have also met many people here in Vietnam both Vietnamese and ex-pats who are committed to doing what they can to alleviate poverty, ignorance and disease.

Our faith in the kindness of humankind is renewed almost daily...sometimes in delightfully surprising and serendipitous ways.

Back to Vietnam, our book about our adventures in Vietnam was reviewed by a young woman in California, a Viet Kieu (a person of Vietnamese heritage living overseas). We did not win the book prize for which L read the book, but we did win a supporter for Journeys of the Heart.

After reading our book, L was moved to contact us. She raved about the book and its significance to her as a Viet Kieu, but she also stepped right up to see how she might help. It took only a contact with  our pal Linda at Children's Education Foundation who of course had a child waiting desperately for some financial help so that she could finish her education.

As luck would have it, Linda managed to arrange a home visit for us to meet V and her family.

We approached V's home with some of the usual trepidation. We were carrying a letter from L in California, along with some pictures of her, with her young family and a small school related gift. As emissaries we wanted to make the meeting one of celebration and joy.

Along with Linda and her staff person and translator extraordinaire Ngoc, we entered the yard. After all this anticipation V did not appear to be home. We wandered the yard and inspected their small soy milk making facility, the family's source of income when Mom, Dad and Granny are well enough to manage the physically intense process. We first met Granny, who was bent with years of hard labour, but had a big, betel red toothless grin (which she only showed me after much encouragement and the reassurance that I thought she was "dep" (beautiful)

V suddenly appeared on her bicycle. She had gone to the main road to meet us and show us the way, but had some how missed our car. But there she was shyly making her way through the back gate.

We wasted no time in introducing ourselves and with Ngoc's translation we think that she understood that we were bringing her a message from her sponsor in California.

Once in the house V opened her letter from L and surprised us all by reading it aloud, translating the English into Vietnamese as she went. V only needed a little help to get through the three pages. L's gifts of shiny new pens and a tablet were just right for this young scholar.

Of course, as is always the case, the neighbours were right there, faces pressed against the window grates and the little ones prancing right in, curious about what all the fuss was about.

Dad and Mom were silent and shy, but graciously offered water and tea.

We entertained the little neighbours with balloons and transfers. Then all too soon it was time to say goodbye.

We wish V the best for her continuing education. She seems to have buckets of potential.

What a blessing for V to have connected with L in California through CEF.

We all feel good!

L sent along this quote in a recent e-mail:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has."  Margaret Mead


  1. the wonderful connections keep growing and making a difference in our lives and that of others.

    Thank you Elaine and Bruce for being the link to so many wonderful people who benefit from knowing and supporting each other.

  2. Thank you for being my emissaries! I also never expected to have such a personal connection to a child in Vietnam, and now my mother and uncle also want to sponsor through CEF. These growing connections of the heart are healing for all.