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Projects done in Viet Nam by congregations that received Mission Match® funds

January 2011

Congregation in Illinois supports Vietnam Free Methodist endeavors and ministries   (click to open/close)

A Free Methodist congregation in Illinois received a fifth Mission Match matching contribution. According to application materials from the congregation, the congregation wanted to contribute to an international project to support emerging mission work in Vietnam. A bicycle team was to go to Vietnam in January 2011 for a two-week tour, to bring the financial contributions and visit the church there. Comments on the Bicycle Team's Blog stated, "After riding bicycles over 600 miles through Vietnam this year, we have compelling stories to tell. Stories from the open road. Stories of encounters with people in city and countryside. Stories of what our Vietnamese friends are experiencing. Stories of grace breakthroughs. Stories of fascinating landscapes, intriguing culture, beautiful people, and forward-looking hope. First, we awaken every day to the thought: I am in Vietnam. Our journey is unique and privileged. Few Westerners come into this area, much less bicycle together as a group. We know we are representing something greater than ourselves. So, we ride each day with gratitude and purpose. All along the way each day, we are greeted by small children running to the front of their property and waving and yelling "hello!" School children do the same. Adults, too, are friendly toward us. We aren't sure if this is standard behavior for a colorfully-addressed cycling group passing by or if something else is going on. We have heard that Westerners are not seen in these parts very often. Perhaps we're a novelty. That's okay. Our journey today took us into a truly mountain environment, as we drove northward along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. It was our longest day in the saddle--nearly 6 hours--and our longest one-day distance--75 miles. The terrain was hilly. We had a strong headwind. We rode into tribal areas few Westerners ever see. "We are a truly international team. Six members are from USA, one is from Canada, and our friends from Vietnam switch off riding segments of each day's route. We had not anticipated this dimension of our team, but our Vietnamese friends insist on sharing in the riding, rather than serving only as guides. These two young leaders are outstanding in character, strong in spirit, and knowledgeable. So, as we ride up through Vietnam, all who inquire realize that what they are seeing is not just some cyclists from USA, but an international cycling effort for the sake of a peace investment. This was the most remote area we have ridden through. The level of poverty was high. Evidence of simple tribal ways was everywhere. Still, people were gracious. Children yelled "hello" on their way to school. But as we moved further north, deeper into the mountains, villages were few and far between. Additional comments from the mission team say that the Central Highlands of Vietnam are where coffee and rubber are grown in carefully-planted groves that cover every hill. Here, mountain-dwelling villagers tend these orchards, collect latex, dry coffee beans in their front yards, and live ever-so simply. Here, children walk or ride their bikes to and from school and young people (who isn't young here?) get around villages and towns on Honda motor bikes by the hundreds of thousands. These are the kinds of hills, we are sure, that might have inspired many a Psalm. According to follow-up comments from the congregation, Goals of the mission project were to (1) raise sponsorship for 40 children through International Child Care Ministries. Eighteen children have been sponsored to date (with more expected to be sponsored). This will provide on-going support for food, health care education. (2) Support Vietnam F.M. work. To date, $13,000 has been raised to support work of our friends. Twenty-five water filters were distributed for community use. (3) Enjoy a rigorous bicycle tour in Vietnam, bringing encouragement to friends along the way. The trip was definitely rigorous and we enjoyed sharing stories. Further follow-up comments stated that Mission Match helped their congregation grow in giving by helping our people be aware of challenging countries and providing opportunity for on-going commitment through the relationship of Child Care. According to follow-up comments, The blog of the trip was censored. See additional information and photos at http://www.bikevietnam2011.blogspot.com.