Mission Trip Reflection
CHARIS-Barré Mission Friendship | Kontum, Vietnam | 25 July – 1 August 2015
By Trini Tan
This trip has truly been a real blessing. Though challenging and stretching in many ways, it provided for the perfect conditions and opportunities for growth on both ends. I engaged and embraced each moment the best I could and was honored to be here with Dionne, Ben, Simon, Joseph, Martin, Ivanna and Lilynne. I
have learned the importance of cherishing every single experience. I cling on to the continuous hope that God will provide, and continue to shower his blessings upon us and our beloved friends in Kontum.
There were so many things that happened on this trip; from the happy reunion with Ko, Soan and Hyan, to the lovely meet up with Phuong, Phily, Phanh, Hue and Chil, everything felt blessed and wonderful.
The main takeaways I received from this trip were clarity and faith from God, that the work we do here is making a difference, that everything is worthwhile, and that even if it progresses slowly, surely it will eventually flower into something big and amazing. To me, I felt my meeting with the five new Phase 2 students was like a walk down memory lane. I remembered my first encounter with the Phase 1 teachers, and how they were so similar back then, to these five now. They were shy and reserved, humble and extremely hungry to learn, yet humourous and sweet at the same time. It was hard communicating to them because their English still needs improvement, but just watching their smiles and the sincerity in their eyes is enough to make you feel the connection. Watching them improve and gain confidence over the week, hope in life, it hit me – everything we do in Barre, it will always be worthwhile, no matter how small a change it might be, no matter how slow it might be. Why? Because the few we have here on our program, they know that someone out there cares for them, and that is enough.
Our Phase 1 students taught Phase 2 students in front of us on the last day, and that to me was the highlight of my trip. I was happy beyond words, proud of them, and extremely thankful. I saw how much they had progressed from the first time I met them in Dec 2013, until now. They conducted the whole lesson in English, explained concepts in English, and delivered the class materials with confidence and sincerity. Sitting there watching them, I drifted into my own happy bubble, because they have come so far, further than I ever dreamed of, and all in such a short period of time. And they were proud of themselves too, you could tell from their smiles afterward. I thought about how they have become my family here in Kontum, through the years, and how fortunate I was to be a witness to such a beautiful event.
Our trips always remind me of how important the work we do for them back in Singapore is. It is absolutely worth it.
The children at the orphanage behind the church did a performance for us when we went to visit them, and I was touched by this particular girl who saw me, came up to me and hugged me! I was quite taken aback actually and was wondering if she mistook me for someone else she had met before. So I carried her
in my arms, and again she hugged me tight, and I realized that it’s not that she mistook me for someone else – she knew I was a stranger, but all she wanted was to be touch, a hug, affirmation from someone that she can be loved. I gave her my biggest hug and carried her around for a little while longer before I put her back down and had to say goodbye. She seemed to me, radiant and overjoyed there and then, all because she just needed that one hug to keep her going. God is amazing in the encounters he thrusts at us. We both needed it. Maybe me more than her. I felt loved too, and very comforted.
Each time I come to Kontum, I encounter more and more God experiences, and I take back these memories with me as a reminder in my daily life. To all who read the stories in our journal, I hope you can experience this as well!