Tuesday, I went to Hannah's house to celebrate her birthday with her host family. After stuffing ourselves with pizza, crispy-fried noodles, and watermelon (and coming to the conclusion that, yes, her uncle did just make a dirty joke in Vietnamese; guess my Vietnamese is better than I thought...)we went to the park near her house and I had my first experience with Vietnamese "dancercize."
Wednesday (Hannah's real birthday), we had a party for her at The Gioi in the morning. This was fun because our co-workers all seemed to be in goofy moods, and because I found myself understanding a surprising amoung of Vietnamese...that is, I was able to correctly translate my collegue's sketchy joke...(does it say something bad about me that the only Vietnamese I understand is the off-color jokes?) Then we headed to MCC for a lunch party...then we had a supper party with our friends from church and had an epic excursion out on the swan-shaped paddle boats (in Vietnamese they call them "duck boats.") before Bible study.
Thursday, we left early early early to head to a mountain outside Hanoi for an (overnight) MCC workshop. We, the ten or so MCC Vietnam people, met about forty people from our partner organizations. The workshop consisted of a hotel without heat; meetings focused on the topic of the environmental situation in Vietnam; a Vietnamese style "hike" (ie--on a paved trail, arm-in-arm with a Vietnamese woman, slow, and with lots of breaks) up to a pagoda; and of course some singing. It was nice to get a better idea of what MCC does and plans to do in the future, and to meet the people it works with!
The star of the workshop was, without a doubt, Derek's one-and-a-half-year-old son, Chase. Also known as the most adorable child alive (I know that those of you who know me might be startled by this comment, so I made sure to have this picture taken, just to increase the shock value). Chase and Lukas (Derek's other son) have given me hope, not for any maternal endeavors of my own, but for the possibility that I may be able to develop a greater appreciation for others' children. Encouraging, especially considering the rapid rate of engagement among my friends...
I finished out the weekend with a spectacular Thanksgiving meal at the home of some very generous people from church. This was a nice touch of home (even though it was by far the fanciest Thanksgiving party I have ever been to). It is strange, and a little bittersweet, to think that it is now "the holiday season."However, before I know it, my parents will be here for a whirlwind Christmas visit!