Friday, October 2, 2009

2 down, 3 to go

So, we all have parted and are heading home. We all flew to Saigon, most flew to Taipei (I am blogging from their airport now), and I have 3 more flights to go. I pray for safe travels to all. We will miss Vietnam and its wonderful people...

**ADDENDUM** We are now in Hot-Lanta Hartsfield airport - only one flight left! It has been a wonderful time with this team - hard to say goodbye so I'll only say, "see you later!"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

repairs and reconciliation

Today team members reconnected with friends and "adopted" families in the area - I'll give you a great story later - several of them lost their homes, and we have the joy of giving them back the home and roof they need. Detachments from our team went to meet with local authorities to work out a plan for caring for unwanted babies (born and unborn) by placing them in caring homes. Chuck and others went north to meet with the "Peoples Aid Coordinating Committee" to work on permissions for future clinics. Things happen slowly in Vietnam, but patience, prayer, and persistence pay off.
I am repeatedly amazed at the healing and reconciliation brought about through VWAM. Chuck Ward is a gifted leader - I hope to model his calm confidence and his relationship-building skills in the future. I am equally inspired by the "over 60" guys who are making the most of every opportunity by doing these missions.

Check this out from James 2: What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.


Roofs and Tubes

So, now that we have $3000+ left over from the mission fund (even after paying for so many surgeries - they are cheap here) - we are finding people whose homes were destroyed by Typhoon Ketsana and we're buying them new roofs. One whole roof costs only $200 installed, so we should be able to cover 15 peoples' homes! Here is a cleanup crew:

In the mean time Jordon and I are enjoying by far the best surf yet - we awoke at 6am to glassy perfection - long, hollow, overhead lines slowly rolling beachward. I am so sore but so happy. I wish I had a video of it but who's going to stand on the beach and do it?

We went out again after breakfast, then again after we biked Monkey Mountain we caught an evening session - it was small and onshore but fun with friends: Jordon ripped, Jack surfed, and Debbie totally got up on a few Vietnamese waves:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Surf by day, Banquet by night

Today was beautiful -
Jordan and I rented boards from the ONLY surf shop in Da Nang [] and zany "Tam" motored us (with boards) back to the surf. The waves are still really big and rough but we had a great time dropping in on some chocolaty log- and furniture- filled waves. Here we are riding a nice "natural woody" in the beachbreak: We longboarded in the morning and shortboarded after lunch.

Tonight our team's Vietnam Veterans were honored at a special banquet. Each Vet received a mounted photo of them in the war, with thank you's from everyone else on the team, on the back:The empty chair is for those lost in the war. They will not be forgotten.

Here are the wives of the Veterans, who participated on the mission:

useful links:
Some of our videos were featured on CNN including this one:

You can see the path Ketsana took here:

t-shirt: "I went to Vietnam and all I got was this Typhoon"

Hooray! Typhoon Ketsana is passing, and we survived! Thanks everyone for all your prayers - it was sketchy for a while, with flying tiles and trees, but we're back on track now. I "iReported" videos to CNN so you may have already seen the videos from here.
So, now what? We have finished all the clinics the government permitted us to do, but maybe they'll let us do some Typhoon relief work tomorrow? We'll let you know. Here's the current view from my hallway:

enjoy these photos taken a few hours ago:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Typhoon Ketsana to make landfall HERE in 3 hours

As tiles noisily blow off the roof, holes open and water enters the hotel everywhere

HUGE Ketsana will cover the nation of Vietnam.

Typhoon Ketsana heading right for us - due for landfall around 4pm local time. Let us pray for those living in shacks that will surely lose their homes; some will lose all.

[read more at ]

typhoon making landfall ON US right now

this is the view off my porch - around front there are many large trees down, the place is a wreck. Sand, limbs, water all are flying around. But we are all safe. more later-

only His grace has brought us safely

Soooo, halfway thru the last clinic in Hong Kim - It was wonderful, and we saw 186+ patients, but there is a category 3 typhoon coming at us and the bands of intense rain and wind knocked out power and some roads. The Dept of Foreign Affairs contacted us directly and told us we MUST evacuate. NOW. It's a good thing they did, as we barely made it past all the trees, rocks, flooding, and mudslides (see photos) and now we're in Da Nang riding it out at the Furama. I am still hoping for big waves to surf on once "Typhoon 9" is gone. For now I thank the Mighty One we are alive.

this mudslide was occuring as we drove through it!

several times we had to jump out of our vans and move trees so we could pass

dam along Ho Chi Minh Hwy, surging with rain water
I wonder why every patient has back pain?

Dr. Roger Hamm (left), Chuck Ward and Chinh giving away another wheelchair

Sue Proctor and "Viet" our faithful interpreter

Dr. Willis and Brenda Archer, Roger and Shirley Helle, Jim Proctor: in Hue on our free day

Dr. Jester's patient - we gave him a wheelchair

Sunday, September 27, 2009

From Lizards to Leeches

Today our team had church, and heard the powerful testimony of Hien, who was imprisoned and in a refugee camp for years. I can't say why or Who saved him from despair but you know...

For Sunday R&R we rented motorbikes and rode north then onto a dirt road, then We scrambled down cliffs, swam and slid thru rivers, then hiked to a sweet waterfall:

The downside to the waterfall is the realization that Ow! hey what are all those little brown things on my-- AACK! LEECHES! under my watch, in my shoes, holy cow is that a snake on my calf? We took turns doing the leech removal dance today

needless to say there was no skinny dipping at the waterfall...

What tastes like chicken but 1000 times chewier? LIZARD meat! It's the Vietnamese version of Extra gum - seriously 20 minutes later I still had a piece of ??? in my teeth. For bonus points, click on the photo and see if you can find: a)lizard teeth b)lizard tongue c)your appetite after staring at a cooked lizard...

30km south of A Luoi, and for about 50 cents, you can seep in sulfurous scorching springs as long as you can stand - we did:

The best thing about the hot springs was riding past miles of rice paddies and villages on the motorbike

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Crowd control!

Word has spread to surrounding areas, and I guess they like us! Today we were met by this substantially larger swarm

We looked out and saw Mike was stuck in the mass of people - he was eventually rescued, to the amusement of all...

Everyone was really very patient and kind, and we saw even more than we hoped - over 300 patients today!

these hands belong to a young lady who is losing function in her dominant (right) hand due to an enlarging tumor. We are taking her to Hue to see a hand surgeon for evaluation and treatment, courtesy of VWAM.

My interpreter Phuong, who is now assisting me in surgery each day!

These marks are from a common practice of pinching the skin in specific areas (poor man's acupuncture?) to cure various disorders. I'll let you know how it works...

Here's a handmade wooden fetoscope I am using - what a delight it is to tell the women their baby has a healthy heartbeat!