12 Witnesses

Let these stones be a witness to what we have done here this day.

Vietnam 2009: Favorite Things

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I’m sitting in a taxi, in rush hour Hanoi traffic on Wednesday afternoon heading home from Bonnie’s first day of teaching at the University.  The windows are down and we are in a tangle of traffic heading in every conceivable direction.  Most of them are scooters.  Some of them are cars, probably taxis.  A few of them are busses.  All of them are honking.  None of them are moving.

I love it.

At home, this drives me nuts, but here I relish it.  It reminds me that I am where I am and why I am here.

So, as I relished that moment, it occurred to me to share with you a few of my favorite things from this trip and from Vietnam.

“I wish they understood me better.  They would love me.” – said by my wife in regards to the language barrier as she taught at the University.

Walking down a side street in Hanoi with 13 year old Casey Strong and discussing how he was experiencing something that none of his friends had ever come close to, and probably would never get to do.

Learning the complex intricacies of engagement from the Forefront Church team and being awed by their servant nature.  Being grateful for brothers and sisters whose service had opened doors for us so that we reaped the fruits of their labor.

Being reminded of the material blessings I enjoy in comparison to those in real need.  Realizing that those material blessings can be a curse in a million different ways.

Taking a team half full of teenagers – our young leaders – to a completely new place and experience.  Helping them to experience service and, hopefully, learn to be a new person.

Forming new relationships and learning from my Vietnamese friends.

Making a real difference in the lives of children in a remote part of the world.

Being generous to college students who are hungry for more than just western food: We  gave them pizza, conversation, friendship, education, respect and more.

Sacrificing for the privilege of serving.  It conforms my wicked heart into the shape of my Lord.

Let’s be honest.  Foot massages.  I’m completely addicted.  I won’t pay $35 at home for the exact same thing, but while here I will readily give up $6 for an hour of relaxing physical manipulation.  I’ve corrupted my wife and Casey Strong, but Jimmy and Denna Strong resist with a convincing resolve.

Using chopsticks.  My friends say I’m a natural, but I need more practice.

Living the Gospel. Having my heart broken.  Being uncomfortable.  Serving God across the world with my wife. Speaking eternal truth without the driving need to count the person opposite.  Watching God at work.  Being awed that He would use a completely flawed person like myself.

Just a couple of pics of Hanoi scooter traffic from the back of my taxi.  You can see more of them at flickr or my photoblog.

Click on a thumbnail for a bigger picture.

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