Well, our brief time in Vietnam is coming to an end. It's been a good experience for us. By stringing together all of our "days off" and putting them at the beginning of the trip, it's allowed us to ease into our time in Asia and get over jet lag before jumping right into ministry and work time. It also means that we're pretty much going non-stop from here on out, and that we won't be enjoying any buffers between the various legs of our journey. It's a bit of a gamble, but we're betting that it will work out okay.
In the past, we've gone almost directly from the last day of school to the first day on mission with no time at all for adjustment. This year, we've enjoyed the opportunity to spend a few days as a family, and I think it's been healthy. Vietnam is a special place to us, the birthplace of our love for and commitment to Asia.
On our way back from breakfast this morning, we paused briefly in front of the former Claudia Hotel where, 16 years ago, a rust-red Chevy Suburban rolled to a stop and produced an old Vietnamese woman who, without a word, handed a tiny sleeping infant whose name, Chien, was written on his arm in blue ballpoint pen to a couple of mostly-clueless kids from Ohio who really had no idea what they were getting themselves into. It's almost unbelievable that Chien is almost an adult, ready -- at least in theory -- to navigate the world without us to guide and protect him. I'm not sure who's more unprepared for our oldest son to leave the nest, him or me.
But I digress. Tomorrow afternoon we head off toward India to spend a few weeks with our Asia's Hope family in India. Our travel schedule will be pretty intense until we reach Kalimpong -- Bangkok, Mumbai, Kolkata, Siliguri -- I think we miss a night's sleep in there somewhere. After a week by ourselves, we'll be joined for a couple weeks by Addison Smith, Asia's Hope's project manager and Jared Heveron, a videographer from Columbus, Ohio. Later, we'll be joined by other friends, colleagues and co-workers for various portions of the summer.
While in India, Cambodia and Thailand, we'll be interviewing, photographing, documenting. We'll be consulting, planning and strategizing. We'll also be laughing, singing and playing. If all goes well, we'll leave Asia with all of the documents, stories and hugs we'll need to keep the organization running smoothly until next summer's trip.
I'm sure that there will be hitches -- attitudes will falter, shots will be missed, phones will be stolen (as mine was last night), luggage will be lost and appointments will be unavoidably missed. But for now, despite a few minor mishaps, the McCollum family is holding up pretty well, and we're heading into the rest of the summer in good spirits and as much esprit de corps as a couple of teenagers, an old married couple and a fourth grader can be reasonably expected to possess.
It's morning now. We leave in a few hours. But first, I'm going to head off to the stolen phone black market area of town to see if I can find and buy mine back, or at least get a good deal on one lost by some other hapless traveler.