Thursday, August 6, 2009

Friends Abound

Ed, Carla, and Chris Wubbena recently completed their trip to Vietnam. It was Ed's first time in that country since the conclusion of the Vietnam War. In the coming weeks, we'll have more information about their trip and the Speaking While Listening art project.

In his last audio journal entry, Chris talks about a stop at the Cao Dai Holy See and an encounter with a woman who also survived the war.

After riding back down the mountain our driver took us to the Cao Dai Holy See, which is a temple for a religion unique to Vietnam called Cao Dai. We entered the temple and were overwhelmed by the vibrant colors and imagery. We walked around the perimeter of the temple taking photos, when a woman approached my father. She was small with white hair, 70 years old, and dressed in white, which indicated that she was a follower of Cao Dai. She, as many have, asked my father where he was from and they immediately struck up a conversation.

She talked about her trip to the US. She talked about loving the fruit in the U.S., especially cherries. She talked about how big everything was in the U.S. She spoke with such delight in the things she was saying. You could tell that my mother and father loved talking to her.

Then at one point in the conversation the topic of my father being in the war came up. It has come up in every conversation we have had. My father mentions that he was here in Vietnam 40 years ago. When it comes up in conversation, I always wonder what the other person will say and am always surprised by the response. When he told her he was in the war she said that he was lucky to have made it out of the war and he said so was she. After that, she pointed out the window to the distance, indicating where she lived and then told us that there was bombing around her house during the war.

I think if there is one thing that we are learning from this trip, it is that war can destroy land, it can eliminate people, it can do any number or horrible things; but it cannot totally take away what is good. We have met so many people here who have greeted us with such warmth and generosity. Total strangers who want to talk to us, who want to hear about us and share about themselves. This trip to Vietnam is about reconciling the past for my father, but it has grown into more than that. I think that more than anything this trip is confirming that the past is history and the present is filled with many friends and family who love him and support him, and that those friends are not just in the United States, but in Vietnam as well.

Listen to Chris talk about his father's experience at the Cao Dai Holy See.

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