Happy New Year, Vietnam!

tet3One of my Bucket List wishes is to be in Hanoi on Tet.  Tet celebrations start today, so Happy New Year to all on my friends celebrating. . .Tan and family, Binh, Trang, Andrew and Sammy, Sa and family, Thao, Huong, Hanh, Tra, Pink, Diep, Bic and so many more. . .  May the year of the snake be full of joy and goodness!

Quick history lesson on Tet: (it’s pretty fascinating…we Americans have no idea how to really celebrate – enjoy!)

Tet Nguyen Dan, the Vietnamese New Year, follows the same calendar that governs Chinese New Year celebrations worldwide. So on the same day the world celebrates Chinese New Year, the Vietnamese celebrate Tet.

The Vietnamese consider Tet to be the year’s most important festival. Family members gather in their hometowns, traveling from across the country (or the world) to spend the Tet holidays in each other’s company.

Tet and the Kitchen God Tet Nguyen Dan translates literally to “the first morning of the first day of the new year”. Long before Tet, Vietnamese try to get rid of any “bad fortune” by cleaning their homes, buying new clothes, resolving disputes, and paying their debts. Like the Chinese, the tet2Vietnamese believe that Tet marks the time when the Kitchen God reports on their family to the Jade Emperor.

A week before Tet, family members attempt to propitiate the Kitchen God by burning gold leaf paper and offering carp (live, placed in a bucket of water upon the family altar) for him to ride. Houses are cleaned (or repainted) and decorated with yellow blossoms. A bamboo plant called a Cay Neu is planted in the family courtyard: decorated with red streamers and flowers, the Cay Neu is believed to welcome good luck and ward off evil spirits in the week-long interregnum between the old Kitchen God’s departure and the arrival of his replacement. Vietnamese also pay tribute to their ancestors throughout Tet. Each mid-day, for the duration of the New Year week, offerings are placed on the household altar and incense is burned in memory of the departed. Tet and Good Luck On the stroke of midnight, as the old year turns into the new, Vietnamese usher out the old year and welcome the new Kitchen God, beating drums, lighting firecrackers, and goading dogs to bark (a lucky omen).tet1

More on luck and the New Year: Vietnamese believe that one’s luck in the entire year can be determined by auspicious (and not-so-auspicious) events during Tet. Thus Vietnamese will try to even the odds. Barking dogs inspire confidence in the New Year, so dogs are encouraged to bark. Hooting owls are regarded as an unlucky omen. The wealth of the first person through the door on New Year reflects the family’s luck for the year to come, so the rich and popular are invited to one’s home. Tet and Families On Tet, families lay out a splendid feast to welcome visiting relatives and friends.

Traditional Tet treats include: Banh Chung: a special rice pudding containing mung beans and pork bits. Watermelons: considered lucky because of its red color. Other lucky fruits: coconuts, oranges, and grapefruits Family members and friends also exchange gifts during the visit. After the guests have been feted, the family goes off to their respective places of worship (Christian or Buddhist) to pray for the year to come, or join in the many public parades celebrating the festival. The first few days of Tet are meant to be spent visiting friends and relatives. The first day is spent calling upon close friends and one’s parents. The next day, Vietnamese call on their in-laws and other friends. And on the third day, people call upon their distant relations. On the seventh day after Tet, the Cay Neu is taken down, and dragon processions stalk the streets.tet

(from http://goseasia.about.com/od/eventsfes6/a/tet.htm)

Homeward Bound on Halloween

I’m writing from Seoul where we have like an 11 hour layover. Our airlines gave us the option of a hotel room and room service or a tour of the city. I opted for the room. So, I’ve had a nap, some food and I’m about to take a bubble bath before jumping on the plane again for a 10 hour flight back to the States.
I’ve been looking at all of the Facebook and Twitter pics of everyone’s Halloween. Halloween has never been a holiday that I enjoyed all that much. But this one is the first official celebrated holiday that I have ever experienced away from Kevin and the girls and it has been super hard to be on the other side of the world only experiencing it via Internet.

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Aren’t they beautiful?? I can hardly wait to get home and squeeze them all! (and maybe even take a big bite out of that candy corn!)
Only a few more hours. We fly Seoul to San Francisco to Denver, getting home Tuesday evening. Yay!

Now…bubble bath time!

Click Link for Today’s Vietnam Update!

Click Here to see our days in Vietnam

Today’s Orphanage Visit

And We’re Off!

Seoul, Korea bound…touchdown in about 12 hours!

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Meet Tan, Bob Roberts and My Favorite Vietnamese Artist, Minh Son

Tan (pronounced Dun) is the guy who makes it all happen at Glocal Ventures, Inc. headquarters in Hanoi.

Bob Roberts. . .well, he’s Bob Roberts. . .half Texan/half Vietnamese wild man pastor friend. 🙂

Minh Son. . .his knock off paintings are all over my house.  Look how beautiful!

Getting more and more excited to be in Hanoi soon.

This Time Next Month. . .

. . .I will be in the Northern mountains of Veitnam yet again.

I woke up this morning with a sense of urgency about preparing myself and my family for my being gone 13 days the end of October (19-Nov.1).  This means school plans have to be in order, meals organized, calendars filled, shopping done, lists and lists made for Kevin. . .I will not be overwhelmed.  I will not be overwhelmed. . . .

Together, Kevin and I have both spent many weeks over the last 12 years in Hanoi, Bac Ha and Sapa.

Last year this time we were in the throws of planning and packing for our entire family to spend almost 3 weeks in Vietnam as Kevin took his sabbatical.  That was by far the very best time our our families life together to this day.  It was a plan that was 6 years in the making and worth every bit of sacrifice we made to get us there with our girls.

When the opportunity to lead this year’s Venture Vietnam Trip for Cool River came about, I have to admit that although I felt very much needed and led to lead the trip, I was not necessarily excited about it.  Why?  Because after experiencing Vietnam with my family I could not imagine going back again without them. And after agreeing to lead this time, I actually felt very sad.

Well, time has passed since then and the reality of it all is approaching very quickly.  The team has formed.  Tickets are purchased.  Plans are made.  Visa applications are being mailed today.  It’s really going to happen again.  And right now I’m happy to say that I am truly excited about going back to one of my most favorite places in the world. . .Vietnam.

I get to take 3 of my very good friends who have all never been to Vietnam before.  I get to show them the beauty of the people we love.  I get to watch their eyes as they take in all of  the first time sights, sounds, smells and tastes.  I get to serve and love again.  I get to eat Thuy’s food and have tea with Sa.  I get to wake up to the sound of what must be hundreds of roosters saying good morning to a new day (at like 4am!).

And though the preparation is great I have no doubt that once again it is all going to be worth every effort.

Because of Vietnam all those years ago from my first trip with Northwood back in 1998 to today, my life will never be the same.  And I am blessed to be able to continue being connected to that part of God’s beautiful world.

Get ready.  In just a few short weeks I’ll be blogging from Vietnam so you can enjoy the journey with me.