well, i guess we'll find out soon!

It is so strange to see that the date is August 15. This date has been on my calendar (or would have been if i was organized enough to keep such a thing) for months. I have been anticipating it, have worried, have been excited, have been scared to death about it...now, it is here. But before I go crazy about today, I should probably say a few words about this past week's orientation.

It has been at the same time very informative and totally vague, incredibly long and terribly fast moving, overwhelming, and fun. Mostly, though, it makes me ready to just GO.
Some highlights:

-Staying at the MCC "Welcoming Center" in Akron, PA; more specifically in the simple but lovely "Asia House," with the SALTers heading to Asia and the IVEP (a different program, kind of the inverse of SALT) participants who are from Asia and coming to stay in the US or Canada.

-Getting to know the IVEPers from Cambodia and Laos, learning about SE Asian culture from them, and laughing hysterically with them.

-Anticipating my upcoming adventure with other people who are getting ready to do the same thing.

-Meeting and getting to know Alicia, the other SALTer to Viet Nam. She will probably pop up on this blog fairly often.

-Meeting the suprising number of Calvin people here, most of whom I didn't know previously.

-The session on peacemaking given by Titus Peachey, who did lots of work toward removing unexploded cluster bombs from Laos (that were dropped there during the Viet Nam War), as well as petitioning for the US to stop producing these weapons.

-Eating homemade wheat bread with applebutter.
-Learning more about the MCC and what it does. It was particularly interesting to visit the MRC (Mennonite Resource Center), which combines recycling with relief efforts in very creative ways. For example, volunteers weave beautiful rugs out of old ties and jeans, which are sold and the money put toward the MCC's relief work abroad. On this note, I also got to try my hand at some quilting in the MRC's "quilt room." I have no idea if the ladies who work on the quilt next will rip out my inadequate stitches; regardless, it was a fun exercize in recalling my roots.

-Meeting the former MCC Viet Nam representatives tonight for dessert and hearing their glowing account of Viet Nam.

Less than amazing aspects (not to be negative but to give a balanced view of the week):

-Saying goodbye to previously-mentioned new Asian friends. :(

-Weighing suitcases and shifting items from one to another before re-weighing.

-Anticipation of a full 24 hours of travelling. (ok, I will admit, this is slightly exciting).

After that, who knows? Will I, the giant American make a complete fool of myself in my new culture? Probably. At least that is one thing that won't be new. With this expectation in mind, Alica and I taught ourselves our first Vietnamese word-- xin loi. Sorry.

Other than that, we have finished nearly every conversation this week with the conclusion, "I don't know. I guess we'll find out soon!"

Please keep Alicia and me and our fellow orientees in your prayers over the next few days as we disperse for various locations around the world.

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