Friday, May 20, 2011

Vietnam Orphanage

March 6th: 35 Km north of Nha Trang on the south central coast of Vietnam: The Chua Phu Quang Orphanage we all rebuilt looks unbelievably fantastic! Very high quality - all hardwood and marble. The head nun, Hoa Nguyen did an incredible job. It really is the center of the village now.
Yesterday the high lama and all the monks did prayers and blessings for 12 hours straight with only half and hour for lunch. They blessed every inch of the place many times - all 3 floors, up and down with the whole procession and all the villagers following every step of the way. Local musicians and all the chanting monks were miked and amplified so the sound was echoing through the village and the hills.
Gongs, bells, huge echoing drums. I got as much video and photos as I could but it won't do the event justice.
Today we drove up and the orphanage was packed with dignitaries, 3 high lamas, the head of the Catholic church of all the provinces, the head of the communist party of this province, the mayor and I counted over 100 monks and nuns. They were all seated in order of importance in a "U" shape in the 1st floor temple with the high lama in the center. The dignitaries overlooked the courtyard which was packed with families from the village and other areas. There was a snake dance and a dragon dance which made all the kids very excited. Village girls sang and did flower dances.
Then there were speeches from the lamas, from the bishop, from the communist leader but the highlight was the speech from Hoa Nguyen, the head nun who founded, built and runs the orphanage. She's very short but what a bulldog and only 28 years old! I've never seen such continuous energy. She has overseen everything and brought the orphanage from them all living in tents and exposed to bugs and mosquitos and all kinds of sickness and with little hope for the basics including food all the way to the elegant state they live in now. She spoke of when she first became a nun - that she felt that it was her calling to help elevate the least of us all - the orphans and the handicapped - and that would bring out the best in her and everybody. She thanked us: Sumner and Drew and Julian and Sydney and that we would be in her daily prayers and in the daily prayers of all the kids. She said a lot more that I couldn't get translated but by the end she had everyone crying with tears of joy.
I'm very, very proud of you all and so grateful for your support to help make all this happen. I know you would be pleased with the results. It's almost as though these orphans have been elevated to a higher status in the eyes of all the people here as a result of all this. They are certainly much more comfortable and very, very happy. But from my experience it seems that we are the beneficiaries of all this. Helping to elevate the lowest of us is our true purpose and when we fulfill that simple goal we ourselves become elevated. Certainly much happier in our own lives.

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