Remembering Vietnam

By Sharon Younes

The following thoughts were inspired by a request to give tips when travelling to Vietnam.  Thank you to my husband, Tim, for the pictures and memories.

Both my children are from Vietnam. So In 2013 we took them back to their country of origin. In addition, my husband made a couple trips there to do humanitarian work.

 

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I guess it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: always drink bottled water or soda. And be careful of the ice in the glasses. You may want to opt out. There were times when I felt I had to have ice, so I did. I didn’t get sick, but you could be taking a chance. Try different foods. Some of it is delicious. In the hotels, their breakfasts are very big. They serve hot and cold foods, like a smorgasbord. And soup is served every time of the day, all the time.! At first you will not understand why, because the humidity is something else!! Very different from what we’re used to. It feels like 150% humidity. And it slaps you in the face and there’s no escape. What I mean is, at night, it doesn’t cool down very much. I remember showering in the late afternoon, so I could eat dinner feeling refreshed. But it didn’t happen. By the time we got to the restaurant and sat down,  I was all hot and sweaty again. To get the most out of the day, rise early, when the sun is a cooler. And plan your sightseeing and adventures in the morning.  Be careful of the vendors on the streets. Some vendor food can be very good. Most is inexpensive.

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The traffic in Saigon and big cities is crazy and you’ll wonder why you don’t see many accidents. There seems to be no organization to it. When you cross the streets, walk slowly across. The traffic, bikes and cycles will dodge around you. Don’t try to dodge them. In a day or so, you’ll get used to it. The beds in the hotels are very hard, the toilets can be crappy. When you leave the hotel room, your power will be turned off. Power outages are not uncommon.

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The Vietnamese are very friendly towards Americans. And you need not worry about violent crime. Be sure to bargain for everything, especially in the open air markets. When you need to rest you’re weary feet, get a pedicure. They are very inexpensive. On the whole, many things are very reasonably priced or cost next to nothing compared to what Americans are used to.


The Vietnamese people are small statured. And everywhere you look, you see little plastic tables and chairs; the kind used by children in America. But in Vietnam, they are a common site at outdoor eateries for adults! You will come to know what it is like to be different, to be the minority.

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If you ever visit this exotic country, I hope you have a wonderful time. Your comfort zone will certainly be challenged. And you can grow in graciousness and appreciation for what really counts in life. I miss the people:   their joy, simplicity of life, and their resourcefulness.

Reflections on Bringing Her Home

“One Happy Lady!”
        July, 2015

Jenna is placed in our arms at Portland Airport, March 14, 1994.

Jenna is placed in our arms at Portland Airport, March 14, 1994.

Reflections on Bringing Her Home

I am a Christian
And I believe in God.
I have known Him for a long time
But He has known  me forever.
No, He is not a figment
Of my imagination.
His presence was so strong
 One difficult Christmas Eve
That I had to turn my head
To see if He were physically
Joining us at the dinner table.

No, He was not physically there,
But I knew He was with us.

His presence and support
Were what carried us through
As we waited for the U.S. government
To allow our little girl
To enter our country
And become our daughter.

Oh what joy we had
When she was placed in our arms.
March 14, 1994
In Portland, Maine, U.S.A.
Driving home, what a haul
Stopping over night to get some sleep
A dresser drawer became her crib
And the crying did not stop.
So wide-awake at 4:00 a.m.
We packed the car again
For six more hours
with a six month old
Oh, how the car smelled of formula
when we pulled into the driveway
 in Camp Hill, PA.

She had some nicknames,
Like “Energizer Bunny”
For her never-ending energy
She became Houdini one day
Squirming out of her bouncer
All by herself.
Jennifer Huong Younes
Soon became Jenna
And the short name
Fit petite Jenna perfectly.

She smiles all the time
And has a pleasant disposition.
“She is one happy baby”
I remember Tim saying.
She wakes up every morning
With a smile on her face
And she sings for hours on end.
Not a baby anymore,
She still loves to laugh
And make others smile
She continues to be
One happy lady.”

A Hot Valentine Summer!

Valentine’s Day: a celebrations reserved for an exclusive relationship between two people. But what about an inclusive celebration: reaching out to those in need, whether they live close to us or far away. The following video does just that. Tim Younes has reached out halfway around the world to children in Vietnam. His experience goes beyond what you have ever imagined Cupid could do! Last July he spent two weeks directing a summer camp for underprivileged children in Cam Rhan. And he will continue to spread the love this summer. Take a listen.  Maybe you will want to experience a hot, Valentine summer, too!