Thursday, March 19, 2009

Trip to Viet Nam

For the sixth time in more than 10 years, a group of members from Bella Vista Lutheran Church of Bella Vista, Ark. visited Vietnam from February 8-19, led by retired pastor Ron Pfluger.

In addition to such yearly activities as visiting LCMS World Mission project sites in Phu Tho province and universities in Hanoi and Phu Tho where LCMS volunteers teach English, the Bella Vista group brought with them four eyeglass kits as gifts for the elderly in two communes of Phu Tho province. These elderly people are no longer able to read, sew, and do precise work solely because they cannot afford to buy reading glasses.

The eyeglass kits are a project of a Humanitarian Initiative of Rotary District 6110. Each eyeglass kit contains the tools, parts and instructions to make 314 pairs of reading glasses. However, a question arose: how were these eyeglasses going to be tested, constructed, and sent to those in need?

As always, the Lord provided an answer!

The health officials in health stations built or upgraded with the support of LCMS World Mission at the designated communes will do the eye testing, note what strengths of glasses are needed, and send the “orders” on to the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN). Volunteers will then make the glasses to fill the orders. These volunteers are retired friends of the LCMS-NIN project manager. The manager visited several projects in Arkansas where work was being done by retired people and noticed that this volunteer work gave immeasurable purpose, meaning and fulfillment to these volunteers’ lives, but also those whom they serve.

As a result, not only will the recipients of the glasses be able to read again, but the retired volunteers will gain a sense of purpose as well as an opportunity to provide meaningful service for others.

“It was a thrill to see the smiles on the faces of those who received glasses at the two communes we visited in Phu Tho province. One elderly man with tears running down his cheek even gave me a hug. The people who didn’t receive glasses that day carried big smiles on their faces because they knew their glasses would be coming soon.” –Pastor Ron Pfluger