Todays "journal" is written by long time personal friend, a long time GIBTK "cheerleader" Karla DeSimone. Truly an example of nurturing relationships. She probably (ok does know) more of the gibtk kids histories and names then I do. Karla has been instrumental being a "second" mom / mentor to one of the girls who grew up in our homes and now manages one of our homes. This lady is amazing.
"She Knows My Name!"
"She Knows My Name!", "She Knows My Name!" Chip Chip exclaimed excitedly as she catapulted herself into my arms as I entered Mary's Home! While Chip Chip is truly impossible to forget, her words rang true to me. Don't we all want to be remembered by name?
"Earlier this year the building Hai Chau was housed within was sold, and the children from Hai Chau were transitioned to other GIBTK homes. I was concerned to see how the kids assimilated, but seeing Chip Chip in her new environment put my mind at immediate ease. The girls at Mary's Home were quick to guide me into the kitchen for lunch. As I hugged their house mother, tables were rolled out, food was in bowls, and lunch was served. Eating is such a social experience in Viet Nam, something exceptional to be a part of. It reminds me of when I was growing up. No matter how many people showed up at the door around dinner time, my Mom made room for them at the table. Sadly, I feel like in the US we have lost that warm extension of hospitality, so I think that is why I embrace it so much when I return to Viet Nam. Conversation spills out easily over a meal and I love the relationships that are strengthened over eating together. "
"After lunch the girls asked to play a game as they tugged at my arms. I came up with Duck Duck Goose, and began to explain the rules... but that was short lived and totally unnecessary. Chip Chip took charge and excitedly expounded the rules to the rest of the girls. I don't speak Vietnamese, but just by watching her body language I knew she explained the rules in perfect detail! We were enjoying the game and laughing and then ... I was tapped with "Goose".... man was I slow to get to my feet! The girls were roaring with laughter and delight. Then I noticed how the girls all adapted the stance of sitting on their hunches vs. their bottoms.... So I too adapted this stance and to my delight... next time I was tapped, I surprised myself to make it around in time to not be "out"! Next we played musical chairs. I can't tell you the last time I played either of these games, but I can tell you it refuels your tank to do so!"
"Da Nang keeps changing every time I return. 10 years ago, there were mostly bicycles and minimal motorbikes. Next trip, more motorcycles. It wasn't until last year I saw the introduction of taxi's and cars. Now there are so many more cars and so much road construction. It seems there are coffee shops and milk tea shops on every corner. I wanted to do something special with the college ladies from the Lighthouse so I asked if it was possible for us to walk to a coffee shop together. By the display of smiles, I could tell this idea was well received. The girls picked a wonderful location on the roof deck of a local coffee shop. The girls surrounded me and held my hand as we left the GIBTK campus and headed for the shop. The girls were all laughing and smiling. Once we ordered our drinks, I shared about my life...how thoughtful my husband David is to me and how he puts my needs first before his. I told them how David stayed at home with our two sons when they were babies until they were old enough to attend school. I wanted the girls to know that marriage is a partnership and it isn't always the woman's job to do everything. I wanted them to know every family can have different rules, as long as those rules provide respect for all family members. I encouraged them to be slow to date and when they do, choose wisely. I must have conveyed my thoughts appropriately, as Hang announced something along the lines of, "We want a David".
"So, now I need to share the other side of this story. When I met with the college men at Hal's Home, I shared similar stories about my husband and how our household functions. I let them know I was the primary breadwinner in my family and that to be better husbands, they might have to break through stereo types and adapt an arrangement that will work best for their future families. Courteous men that they are, they listened and they didn't escort me to the door, but I could tell my views were counter cultural to them. I too asked them to be slow to date and then they do, choose wisely. It was nearly lunch and I could tell it was time to wrap up. Before I left, I pulled out two new soccer balls from my backpack. Instant smiles and immediate soccer games ensued! Next time I will buy them pizza too!"
"Another word I would think of that comes to mind while in Viet Nam is the word investment. When you care you are making investments. For me, the investments have to be genuine and from the heart. I have had expert teachers along the way. First, my Mom. Helen Pearce never met a stranger. She remembered everyone's name, their birthday, and her door was always open to nurturing relationships. Her smile drew people in and she invited them to share their lives with her. Robert and Dorothea Kalatschan are instrumental in my life. Robert is a master at providing opportunities. He is a skilled leader and as an accomplished sport fisherman. Robert is a natural at baiting the hook, lowering it into the water, and then allowing us to transform our lives by living a life of purpose if we bit the bait! My boss Eli is also a huge influence in my life. While he has a large team of people to manage, he makes the time with each of us independently. As a result, we all feel special, appreciated and cared for."
"There is a saying that states, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". Everyone wants to feel love and acceptance. Everyone wants to be remembered. With each return trip to Viet Nam, I evolve into the person that God created me, and we don't get there alone. It takes people willing to invest and share along with you. Together we can shed the walls that we build after years of criticism and disappointments creep into our lives."
"Giving it Back to Kids continues to transform my life. I have no special skills. I am just willing to invest what I have, and as a result, my borders have been expanded and my life is enriched. "
Giving It Back To Kids