Home soon!

After two months in Vietnam, Christine and Kate will return to the States this Sunday, August 18. Here’s flight information:

Christine and Kate return to Seattle at 7:10 PM on August 18 on EVA Air #26

After an overnight in Seattle, Kate returns to Denver at 10:28 AM on August 19 on Alaska #680.

As you prepare to receive these two, take a look at the next-step ideas we posted as Charlotte and Emily returned home.

Thanks for your support of this team! Please let me know if you have questions.

Owen.

Our last week…

Well, friends… This is it. We’ve reached our final week here in Vietnam, and emotions are definitely all across the board. We can’t believe eight weeks are behind us, and we have one more to have as much fun as possible, but sadly say very emotional goodbyes. 

Since our last blog update, not much has happened. We have spent a lot of time volunteering at Bread of Life, as well as having two thirty-minute sessions, three times a week, at a local kindergarten. We have also started working with a group of 12 dynamic, amazing, and loving orphan girls from the local Vietnamese Christian church. We spend 90 minutes with them, three times a week, talking and playing games. This week we are spending time making prayer bracelets so they will always have a beautiful reminder that they are loved, and they have friends who are there to always support them. 

Our classes wrap up this Wednesday with “Parent Meetings.” We are both a little nervous for this! It’s a culmination of all we have taught our students, and they must showcase this in front of their parents. Doesn’t sound all that bad, but when so much pressure is put on the kids by their families, it’s a little nerve-wracking for them— And us! We have some fun activities planned, so we are praying it goes well. 

On 5 August, it was the birthday of our Vietnamese Partner (VP), Hao! She turned 23, even though she keeps saying she is old! We took her out for dinner at Bread of Life and afterwards, we celebrated with cake on the walkways overlooking the Han River. It is days that like that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. The relationships we have built here have been life-changing, and we know it will be hard to say goodbye because we have all grown so close. We know that God has brought us all together at this time for a specific reason, and we cannot wait until He brings us all together again.

This whole trip has been an amazing testimony to the strength of God’s love. The purpose of our mission was ‘Character development through English language’ so our progress, our success at this mission, wasn’t tangible. We came into this trip with a unique challenge, and that was to show the people of Vietnam the love of God not by what we could do for them, but by what we could do with them. Over the course of four weeks, with Emily and Charlotte, the amount of love and positive energy that existed in our classrooms was amazing, and we could see, by the end of their course, that they had learned a lot of English! And over the course of these last four weeks, God has shown us how relationships outside of the classroom can make just as much of an impact on our mission here. 

I think I can speak on behalf of this whole team in saying that God is good, and this trip has made a profound impact on our lives, and the way we see His beautiful creation. We feel like we have completed our mission here, as we believe we have made a way for His love to shine through us in all that we have done. 

Thank you all for your continuous love, support, and excitement for us on this trip, and we look forward to coming home to tell stories of all our adventures, and of the good work God is doing here in Vietnam.

Peace and blessings, 

Kate and Christine 

Empty-Nesters…

This is Mit Tron.... SO delicious! :)
This is Mit Tron…. SO delicious! :)

Last Sunday, we went to the beach in Hoi An with members of DIF!
Last Sunday, we went to the beach in Hoi An with members of DIF!
Well, it’s week six for Kate and I (Christine) and although we are having an amazing time, it still feels weird without Emily and Charlotte.

At this time, we have completed most courses for the summer program, meaning our class-time has decreased. At the moment, we are now working with students who are 7-12 years old. The change in our schedule has given us the opportunity to branch out and find other means of service. At this time, we are hoping to volunteer at Bread of Life (a western-style restaurant run by an American family that employs deaf and mute Vietnamese- to read their story, go HERE) and hoping to volunteer at a local orphanage. Kate and I have both enjoyed serving on the worship team at Da Nang International Fellowship (DIF) and forming relationships in the church community.

As far as adventures go, we haven’t gone anywhere new since Emily and Charlotte left, but we have had the fun (and slightly nerve-wracking) joy of riding around the city on motorbikes. The day after Charlotte and Emily left, we had the tremendous blessing of being in the hospital when Hai and Teresa had their daughter, Arizona. From the start of Teresa’s pregnancy, she was told the baby would not survive. Despite the doctors’ warning, Hai and Teresa trusted in God, and nine months later, Arizona was born. Arizona means “little spring;” they chose that name to symbolize how she has survived conditions thought to be impossible- like life in the desert. But even in the most barren desert, there is beautiful life created by the heavenly Father. Arizona is a testimony to their family’s faith and trust in God. Arizona is truly a blessing! She is currently still in the hospital, but she is doing very well.

One of the highlights for this week was spending time with a group of Fisher’s students known as East Meets West. These students come from seven provinces of Vietnam to Da Nang for the summer to study at FSEC. They all live together not far from the school, so the teachers all went out for a visit on Sunday. This three hour stay consisted of frisbee, soccer, basketball, water balloon fights, ice-cream, hair-braiding, heartfelt conversations. Our time spent with these students greatly impacted us–it is most definitely something we will remember for the rest of our lives! These students are going home soon, so we hope to spend as much time with them as possible before they leave.

Two of our students, Leon and Nelly, took us to dinner for one of our conversation classes a few weeks ago. Since that day, we have been back to the restaurant three times because it is SO good. We had four dishes- Mit Tron, Banh Tran Kep, Ram Cuon Cai, and Yaourt Muoi. To this day, we’re not really sure what we’re eating, but it is delicious… Hao, our Vietnamese Partner at FSEC, tells us we’re eating their version of “fast food,” but we’ll take that kind of fast food over KFC any day.

The weather has been significantly cooler, with a lot more rain, lately. We have spent our downtime exploring new coffee shops and experiencing different aspects of city-life here in Da Nang. As we enter into August, we are reminded of how short our time is here, and we hope make the most of the remaining 19 days we are here! Until next time, blessings and peace.

Love, Kate and Christine

What SPRINT’s All About

Hello, friends!

With today’s return of the first half of the Vietnam team and the departure of the Brazil team, we’re pretty close to SPRINT’s halfway point this summer. (For a full list of this summer’s trips, visit the SPRINT webpage).

I know you’re primarily interested in reports from teams’ trips, so I’ll keep this post brief. Quickly, though, I wanted to offer some background information on the SPRINT program and our goals for all of this international travel, learning and service you’ll read about on these pages.

University-sponsored short-term missions at Seattle Pacific University date back to the early 1960s; participants in Operation Outreach, later renamed Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational, have volunteered in countries around the world for many years. Serving in teams alongside in-country local leadership, the objective of SPRINT trips has always been to provide needed help, a witness to the Gospel and important learning opportunities for college students.

Today SPRINT is advised and supported by SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development. Perkins Center staff (that’s me) and student leaders partner to recruit, train and send the SPRINT teams you’re reading about this summer.

It’s important for us to engage students with effective, sustainable, community-developing work that promotes long-term transformation rather than the negative, dependency-creating outcomes sometimes associated with short-term missions. To that end, our pre-trip training and host-partner selection focus on a set of values outlined by the Christian Community Development Association, emphasizing local leadership development, empowerment and reconciliation that bridges both social and spiritual gaps. Our hope is that students will learn from effective community engagement models and apply these lessons to their future work, wherever God leads them.

Another key aspect of the SPRINT process is our emphasis on post-trip reflection and application. Neat experiences, great photos and fun stories about new foods do not equal life transformation. However, when students are intentional in reflecting on their experiences, learning take-aways and challenges of the trip they’re more likely to discover God at work throughout the trip experience and beyond.

To encourage the reflection process we’ll send each student a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Service as he or she returns home. The journal highlights the importance of incorporating service and mission experiences into one’s life through reflection and application. You might find this sample article interesting: In “Staying for Tea” Aaron Ausland reflects on the importance of long-term commitment and listening to community in order to find one’s place of effectiveness as an outsider coming in.

Thanks again for your support of students as they participate in SPRINT this summer. If you’d like more information on the program, ways to give or ways to be involved, please contact me at (206) 281-2932 or owen@spu.edu.

Owen Sallee
SPRINT Advisor

Air Mail

Hello from Taipei, Taiwan! We just wanted to give a quick update on our travels as we board our last flight until Seattle… Well at least for Charlotte! Emily still has two more fligths tomorrow morning until she finally reaches San Diego! It was definitley a morning filled with laughter, tears, smiles, and sad goodbyes. But we have truly enjoyed our time in Vietnam and the memories and relationships mad in Vietnam will always be remebered! Best of luck to Kate and Christine as they stay for an extra month! We love you girls and continue to pray for your time in country! Tam Biet Vietnam!

Charlotte and Emily flight information

Hello, friends!

After a month in Vietnam, Charlotte and Emily will return to the States on Wednesday the 17th.  Kate and Christine will stay at Superkids for another month, returning on August 18.  As you prepare to receive Emily and Charlotte, here are some things I hope you’ll think about to help the team make the most of this trip.

Emily and Charlotte return to Seattle on July 17 at 7:10 PM on EVA Air #0026.

As they return, they’ll continue to think through this experience and its implications for their lives.  It’s likely that this mental processing will involve at least some of these elements:

  • Relief upon returning to familiar surroundings,
  • Frustration with aspects of home culture that appear less desirable than the cultural values experienced during the SPRINT experience,
  • Sadness and joy over relationships and memories developed during the trip,
  • And hopefully, Resolve to incorporate the learning from this trip into daily life as life moves on.

It’s our hope that SPRINT participants will return to “life as usual” with expanded worldviews and a clearer sense of God’s work in their lives.  The learning process continues after the trip experience; students will participate in a debriefing gathering in October, and will be encouraged to continue meeting with their SPRINT team to share the story of their host’s work and encourage future generations of SPRINT participants to serve.

I encourage you to give your student time to catch up on sleep, then set aside an extended period of time to share pictures and stories.  Don’t expect completely-formed opinions immediately; the reflection process takes time.  We remind returning SPRINTers that not everyone will have time to hear the whole story, but that they should find a few people with whom to share the longer, more in-depth account.

I’ve mailed team members some discussion questions and a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship (www.kristafoundation.org), to help them think through their experience as they move forward.  If you’ve got time, I’d encourage you to talk though some of these materials with your student.

Thanks for your support of students on this team!   Please let me know if you have questions.

Owen.

Sleepless in Vietnam

Sleep escapes me at the moment, so I thought I would try to update our blog. Although, I’m not sure where to begin! Each day seems to pass slowly, filled with teaching, napping, exploring, and friendship; but the weeks fly by. Emily and I are in our last week here!
This past weekend we were blessed with a Fisher’s staff retreat. We met a lot of the F1 staff we don’t normally see since we teach at F2. To get there we took a scenic ride on motorbikes across the city and through a mountain pass to our beach resort. On the way we stopped for a seafood feast. I personally loved the grilled squid! We also tried shrimp in gelatinous rice that is cooked in banana leaves. A prime example of yummy food that is a bit scary to try. Emotions ran high and fun memories were made as cultures clashed and resolved differences during team bonding exercises and late night girl time. We are exited to be making friends with the VPs (Vietnamese partners that help teachers) as well as fondly discussing the pacific northwest with many of the teachers. We also sacrificed sleep to see the sunrise on the beach at 5am (turns out we missed it, but got to see how busy beaches are in the morning).Our deepening friendships had also made learning Vietnamese, finding delicious food, and street shopping much easier!
Monday we celebrated Emily’s birthday by getting our nails done, sharing birthday cake with our kiddos during snack time, going out for icecream, and receiving vietnamese names.
Tuesday we experienced ANOTHER storm! Even though the power went out a few times we still taught class. Although we loved dancing in the rain, the power outage broke Kate’s computer charger.
Over the past couple weeks, we have been surprised with schedule changes and emergency substitute teaching. Even teaching on the fly like today hardly phases us, thanks to our class observations and accrued experience. It feels as though our team has been teaching for months, not three weeks =)
Personally a lot of my favorite memories are delicious meals with friends. So much cultural knowledge is shared through this act of fellowship. I believe God works through these gathers; just think of all the important meals in the Bible! Whether shoved between sizes of people, or in a peaceful living room restaurant, Banh Xeo might be my favorite. Seafood feasts with church friends or Fisher’s staff were great fun. I will always treasure eating pho with Elissa and Jane, noodles after our snorkling reunion, and 4th of july pizza and cake on the beach. Pork wraps, piles of pastries, late night tea in our hotel room, birthday ice cream, and coffee during karaoke are also a few highlights. Simply eating food turns into a wonderful exchange of language, lifestyles, and laughter.
I hope my tangle of restless thoughts has told you a bit about our trip. If we can get some technological luck, photos in addition to videos from tonight’s karaoke should be posted soon!
~ Charlotte

From the team

After some technical issues, here’s a report from the team!


We can’t believe Emily and Charlotte leave in less than two weeks! Sorry our blog is a little out of date, but we have been experiencing some technical difficulties.

We love teaching the students at Fisher’s. It is amazing how different all of our classes are, and it is fun to see how quickly they all learn. We attended our first staff meeting last week, which was a great opportunity to get to know the other teachers better. We also learned a lot of different teaching techniques from being able to sit in on some classes as well. While we mostly teach 4-12 year olds, we get to teach a class called ACCESS with 16-20 year olds.

Even though it can get pretty hot here, it is still fun to explore the streets in our downtime. We are trying to be as adventurous as possible when choosing places to eat, and on occasion we meet some pretty interesting people (who try and be our tour guide). Going to the beach and exploring some of the markets are also fun.

Lastly, we are really excited about Elissa and Jane arriving! It is so much fun to hang out with them and listen to their great advice. We are hopefully going to have a fun celebration tomorrow for the 4th! We also made some new friends from church, and have loved spending time with them.

Sorry to cram so much into one post! Hopefully more details and more pictures will come later!

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