November 22, 2006 - What a way to spend Thanksgiving!
I am having the most incredible time in Vietnam. When I arrived here on the 18th, I spent 3 days with my dad in Saigon. It's been too long since I've seen him, and although he doesn't seem to be eating enough, he's definitely happy with his new partner in life. He was happy to see me, too we've really missed each other.
After those few days, John and I were off to DaNang, which is more of a rural, country area with lots of very poor people. Homeless people were easy to find, old people and little children without enough food. Some of the poverty is because of the hurricane that hit there this year, but it is a poor area of Vietnam anyway the hurricane just made it worse.
John and myself had bought 15 tons of rice several truckloads and began passing it out in different villages. We worked from the early morning until late at night and found that there just wasn't enough time in the day.
It takes time to unload those heavy bags, but I was so inspired that I didn't even notice how much I was lifting. Each place we went, the people were so thankful and sweet, and I just wanted to spend time talking to them all. But we were on a mission and kept moving to the next stop, and the next, and the next
We saw people in all types of situations, but ones that struck me the most were the people living on these little boats out near the ocean. Some of them even had little babies with them. The poverty is so widespread over here, and it just made me want to cry. All of it made me want to cry.
John and his family are just SO generous! And John comes back so often to do this sort of thing that a temple actually engraved this beautiful stone with his name to honor him for his good heart and everything he has done to help the people there. That was very touching, and I'm so proud of John.
Right now, John's family is doing some cooking so that we can bring some nice warm food to people today. We'll be off to do the same as yesterday bringing as much food to the people as we can. Then on Friday, we'll travel to Hue, which is supposed to be an even poorer part of the country. I can't even imagine who we'll find there.
I have to say that this trip has changed me. Liz Lieu will come back from Vietnam as a changed person. It's one thing to talk about giving to charities, but when you actually go to such poor places and see their faces and look into their eyes, it's life changing. I'm feeling SO very fortunate to have the opportunities that I have, and so grateful to my parents for doing everything that they did to give me a good life in the U.S. I am really humbled by what I'm seeing over here my own people, living so poorly, sometimes without even food. I want to do more, and I'm going to do more.
This has been an incredible way to spend Thanksgiving, even though the holiday doesn't mean anything to people here in Vietnam. I'm so thankful for my life, and I feel like I'm really doing a good thing over here by helping my people. It's always good to give to charities, but it's an unbelievable experience to actually be here and do it myself.
After several more days of delivering food and helping everyone that we can, I'll be going back to Saigon to spend a few more days with my dad. Then, I come back to the U.S. on the 30th. I will be glad to be back home, but this has been such an eye-opening and meaningful trip.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Don't forget to tell people what they mean to you, and if you can help someone less fortunate than you, please do it. Take care