Category Archives: YWAM Kona – CDTS Sept 2014

Week 16 (and 17.5) – YWAM Kona, At the Crossroads – Delinquent in Hanoi

We cannot believe how fast the weeks are passing by, we only have nine days left in Vietnam.

Our schedule has been full for the past few weeks, so I apologize for our delinquency in posting. Today looked like an opportunity for catching up on posts. Then last night we heard that there is a call to prayer today for YWAM Ships. A month ago they lost the 86 ton yacht Hawaii Aloha  and staff member, Aaron Bremner to a winter storm off the Big Island, today we will gather in prayer for this ministry.

DSC_1620DSC_1668DSC_1622Last weekend we headed out of Hanoi, to Sa Pa a community close by the northern border with China. Sa Pa is in the mountains and we had sleeping berths on a night train to get there, we came back to Hanoi by bus late on Sunday night. This was an interesting trip, we had a few hours of sunshine on Friday and almost saw the peaks of some mountains, but most of the time we were in the clouds, rain, fog, mist, it was the ‘hard-to-warm-up-chill-to-the-bone cold’, not the ‘dry cold’ of Alberta. The trip was filled with great joy though, as we were able to meet many H’Mong, a tribal people native to the area. The town of Sa Pa must hold the world record for most “the North Face” stores, I am sure I went in 27, they are interspersed with hotels, restaurants and massage places.

A little while ago we were asked if we would do it again, give up 5 months of our life to do a YWAM DTS. The short answer is “Yes, without a doubt, we would do it again.” We have done several short-term missions over the past 13 years, to Santiago, Chile, to Unitedville, Belize and in Tijuana, Mexico; these have varied from two weeks to five, each was centred around a construction project which we used in a variety of ways to build relationships. Some of the things we learned in short-term missions were helpful in preparing us for the outreach phase here in Viet Nam but the lecture phase at Kona was very different from any previous mission preparation activity. The teaching was intensive, very solidly Bible-based, challenging, provoking and practical; we would sit under that teaching again.

Our time in Vietnam has been quite different from all of our previous trips into the developing world which focused around a construction project as the tool to build relationships, have conversations and share cultural and worldview. While YWAM is not averse to practical assistance, often involving itself in mercy, relief and development aid around the world, it is not the focus of the Discipleship Training Schools outreach. Over the past few weeks in Vietnam it has been ourClass 1 participation in english language clubs and our involvement in classrooms that has brought about the relationships needed to be able to share life. One of our purposes in coming to YWAM was because we were at a crossroads in life and we were hoping to discover a ministry opportunityClass 2 where we could serve together. While we have both been stretched and pushed out of our comfort zones by the tasks that God has given us here, especially the university classes, we have seen many people who desire to learn more than just the English language. Discussions always seem
to go beyond the topic at hand around life management, coping skillsIMG_6262and cultural differences. Both of us have enjoyed sharing through english classes and clubs. We have registered for TESL/TESOL/TEFL certification course at the University of Calgary in March and are thinking that we can start an english club in Okotoks.

5 months seems like a long time to be away but we have found modern technology Skype and FaceTime has narrowed the gap, enabling us to see and chat with children and grandchildren as often we are able with a 14 hour time difference. We have done so, weekly from Kona and two weekly from Viet Nam.

Until next time be blessed and be a blessing, A&G

DSC_1700 IMG_6230

Week 15 – YWAM Kona, At the Crossroads – 40 and counting

WED1-5As we celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary in Okotoks, Canada, this time last year it occurred to us that we had no idea where we would be celebrating our 40th. To be honest, Hanoi, Vietnam did not even cross our minds. We had applied to attend Crossroads Discipleship Training School at the University of the Nations in Kona, but that was all we knew. In fact, at that time YWAM Kona didn’t know. Vietnam is a new location for Kona, our outreach team is the first longer term team to visit Hanoi. In the past there have been a couple of teams from New Zealand and one from California that have been here for a couple of weeks. It looks like eight weeks is better for establishing relationships. With the help of some local contacts we have been exploring opportunities to make a difference. Vietnam is isIMG_6038 hungry. So far most of our time has been spent in the city of Hanoi, but we have made a couple of trips to a village in the countryside west of Hanoi, where we held English camps for some pre-teens and in-betweens. Last Saturday Marjo, one of our leaders, Glenda and I, headed out into the country to assist with a special English club, while there we spotted our first Vietnamese wildlife in a tree near the building we were in. I believe it is a long-tailed macaque. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me so I have only a zoomed-in iPhone picture.

IMG_6051Our anniversary dinner was shared with our team and hosts, 18 of us at The Republic, we had an excellent roast beef dinner, with the biggest Yorkshire pudding, very tasty gravy and roast potatoes. It was an awesome treat that reminded of us the many traditional Sunday roast dinners we had before moving to Canada. DSC_1370Unfortunately, the Hanoi winter has kicked in and some inclement weather forced us to sit inside to avoid the rain and wind. The restaurant has a great balcony which we had reserved for the occasion, it overlooks Ho Tay Lake and the city skyline.

We had the opportunity to share an evening with two teachers that we have worked with. They took us out for coffee and Bun Ngan, this is a very popular dish that can be found at many of the street soup kitchens, most customers sit on plastic stools on the sidewalks/pavement. The best eating places are obvious by how far the clientele is spread down the street from the soup pots. This place was very popular. The link I put on Bun Ngan is to a blog site which describes the experience very well, there is much discussion in the comments around what Ngan is, duck? goose? swan? It was described to us by our friends as a big duck, more like a swan, but with no definitive answer we can only vouch that it was very, very tasty. The chilli pepper and garlic dip had lots of garlic.


IMG_6022 Vietnam continues to surprise us, every day brings a new joy, we even have a dog that likes to walk upright on its back legs as it passes our apartment.

Until next week, be blessed and be a blessing, A&G.

Week 14 – YWAM Kona, At the Crossroads – Hanoi Christmas

We are losing track of time, I am quite sure we missed a week blogging as we got caught up with timezones and got synched with our new life, so I called my last post 12+. We have now calculated that in less than 6 weeks we will be debriefing back in Kona, Hawaii, followed by our return to Okotoks. So this post must be Week 14! The lack of 13 really has nothing to do with triskaidekaphobia.

Metro Cash & Carry is a very different shopping experience in Hanoi, it is a bit like Costco, or perhaps Real Canadian Wholesale, but there are noticeable differences.The fish section really stood out for me, it was larger than the meat department, with all of  its beef, lamb, chicken, duck and…


The fish is fresh, very fresh. Some as fresh as it can be, we have seen lobster and crab in live tanks at the stores in Canada but here there are many more live choices in large aquariums and row upon row of ice trays displaying many varieties of fish that I didn’t recognize. Many of the small stores in peoples houses must get there supplies here, so it really isn’t our first choice to support, but it does have the advantage of being able to purchase many items in one place.

An easy walk from where we live, in Tay Ho District, is the Donkey Bakery. As a bakery and cafe this business is a socially responsible company. The owners hire people with disabilities to perform the majority of tasks; 80-90% of the staff are blind, deaf or missing limbs, although the owners are quick to communicate that we are all handicapped it is just not so visible in most of us. The bakery has European style breads and pastries, and all of our team have enjoyed lunches and delicacies and even ministry times with the staff. On Christmas Eve when Glenda and I visited with a couple of others from the team, we were surprised to see that there were Vietnam TV cameras in the shop. They were filming for a news story for morning TV.

We went to the Christmas Eve service at Hanoi International Fellowship that meets in the Hanoi Club Hotel every Sunday. It is a registered Christian church and has two campuses in Hanoi. The congregation is made up of english-speaking ex-pats, from many countries, and a growing Vietnamese contingent. The Christmas Eve service was very well attended with extra chairs having to be brought in. We were very surprised to see the Vietnam TV cameras were in the room, then we realized that the staff from Donkey Bakery were performing two of the carols, they were amazing, one of the blind workers played a đàn bầu, one girl led the singing and many others performed a liturgical dance. Part of Silent Night is in my cellphone video here.

The TV station was filming this for their news documentary and part of Israel Houghton’s Jesus, at the Center was broadcast on national television, and… one of our team leaders, Marjo from Finland, was interviewed for the broadcast. Here is the english version of the clip that went out on national TV, see if you spot anyone you know.

IMG_5957We have to say in all our riding buses and taxis and walking around, even walking across theFullSizeRender road between speeding motorcycles, we have never felt unsafe. We feel Hanoi is one of the safest places we have ever visited. To our western eyes activities like these young men riding a cement mixer down the street at about 50kph (30mph) with a front wheel that was very buckled, or the guy delivering rebar on his moped to the concrete workers cutting and installing it in flip flops would cause a safety inspector to have a heart attack.

We are settling into our role as volunteer English language coaches with a couple of post-secondaryIMG_5944 schools, some of the classes have little English yet which is a bit challenging, but the more advanced classes are becoming a lot of fun as we develop relationships with the students and begin to exchange some of our different cultures and worldview. Of all the university students we have met so far, only one had parents that are not still together, it seems that the divorce rate is really low. On Christmas Eve we were blessed by a surprise delivery of cards and cake gifted to us by the staff and students of one university which we show off in the picture above.

IMG_5969Glenda and I found a Christian coffee shop a few days ago near where we have classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. We arrived a few minutes before closing and bought Ca Phe Sua Da whichIMG_5902 came with a glass of green tea, not unusual, but we did say “Goodnight and God bless” to all the staff as they left except for the one who stayed late so we could enjoy our drinks. This is typical of the way we have been treated since being in Vietnam. Our new favourite dish Bún chả is just 25,000 Dong ($1.25), it is grilled (BBQ’d) pork in a tasty broth with bamboo shoots and carrots and sides of vermicelli noodles, and fresh green herby plants that vary day by day, lettuce, mint, marjoram, nettles, cress, beansprouts, etc.

That’s all for this week and this year, our next post will be in 2015! Until then, be blessed and be a blessing, A&G