Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Quang Ngai

We left Hanoi this morning for a one hour flight to Danang. From there we took a taxi to Quang Ngai City, a trip of almost 3 hours. Traffic on the roads is crazy! If you were to mute the horns on all the cars, trucks and motorcycles, no one would be able to drive anymore. We saw one accident, almost certainly fatal. The only surprise is that we didn't see more.

Our hotel here is very comfortable, right in the city center. I was amazed to see this bustling, vibrant place. I recognize almost nothing from 40 years ago. The old water tower is still here, but instead of looking at it across a rice paddy, it's to one side of a busy traffic circle.

The best part today was finding the Catholic church. Forty years ago it was a half-finished shell and was home to hundreds of Catholic refugees who built their shelters out of old cardboard cartons, pieces of thatch, and whatever else they could find to scratch out a home. Washing, bathing, drinking water, all was achieved by means of 2 or 3 faucets out in the middle of everything. Now, there are paved sidewalks on all the streets, the church has been finished and newly painted, there's a rectory behind it and a peaceful garden beside it. We spoke briefly with the priest, but he's only been here 21 years and so doesn't remember what it was like back then. We were trying to find the building that used to house our children's day care center. It's someone's home now, so we didn't spend too much time searching for it. Tomorrow we'll meet with one and maybe two of the men who are nearing retirement now, but 40 years ago were prosthetics maker-trainees in our hospital project. They've achieved positions of importance in the rehab center, which moved to Qui Nhon after the end of the war.

This is very healing for me. I'm so happy to replace an old image of sorrow and suffering with a new one of peace and beauty.

Later we stopped by a shop to buy motorcyle helmets for ourselves, since we will be driven to the Middle School in Tinh Khe on the back of the teachers' motorcycles. I'll probably just have to ride with my eyes closed!

Peace and love to you all, my friends.

We'll be in Quang Ngai tonight and tomorrow, then on the 25th we'll go to Tinh Khe to start our teaching role.

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