It is the Lunar New Year here. Super Bowl Sunday in the USA. In British Columbia it is the Family Day weekend. In Norway it is Fastelavn. This week also has Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday when many Christians begin the season of Lent. And next week will be Family Day in Alberta. So much celebration, so much renewal, and so much of it involving family and friends! Here in Hanoi, we have been invited to be a part of many peoples celebrations, including New Year’s Eve with the family of one of our english club friends and this morning we shared blessings with our landlords at their traditional Vietnamese New Year’s breakfast. Tết is such a busy time in Hà Nội, many people have left the city to be at their families’ traditional homes. In fact, the city is a bit of a ghost town as nearly everything is closed for the holiday. There is hardly any traffic, the streets are emptier and easier to cross.. Those who originate in the city have cleaned and decorated their homes and are enjoying Thanksgiving, Christmas and western New Year all rolled up into one great celebration. The generosity of the people in Vietnam goes above and beyond, they are giving people, they are amazing hosts, they are very loving and we are left wondering what compels them.
There is also a lot of religious activity, ancestors are being worshiped at the ancestral altar in the home and temples and pagodas are being visited. We have the chance to bless people with prayer and by sharing God’s love. In Vietnam, Ông Trời is the owner of all heaven, a bit like the Greeks in Paul’s day who had a shrine to the unknown God, just in case.
This week has really been all about visiting. Along with friends in private homes, we were also able to visit a home for handicapped people east of Hanoi. We met the Director of the centre a man of peace who really cares for the 360 people and 95 staff that are under his care. In Vietnamese tradition we shared tea and then were able to visit many of the people in their homes. As you can see from these few photos there was much love and joy shared.
This week we are heading to Sa Pa, a small frontier town near the border with China, for 5 days. We are hoping for good weather. Last year we were in the clouds and rain for most of the trip with a high of 4C. It was very cold and wet and hard to move around, traveling between villages in the mud on foot was difficult. Our team has purchased 240kgs of dried fish in 20 boxes along with socks and gloves which we hope to be able to give to the minority people who live in the Hoàng Liên Mountains around the town.
We have had a couple of beautiful sunny spring-like days. Yesterday, we were in a village north-east of Hanoi visiting the family of Yen our interpreter. The sun was shining and the sky was cloudless. It was a first time experience for us. It is not unusual to see streets lined with flags as the Vietnamese in this part of the country are very patriotic. On a sunny day the red and gold really stands out. After we return from SaPa we will have just two days to debrief, clean and pack before traveling back to Kona. It is hard to believe that our two months in Vietnam is already coming to an end.
Until next time be blessed and be a blessing, A&G
Scripture from The Voice Bible unless otherwise noted.
The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.