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Another blog to touch base with everyone. You know what? It’s kinda hard blogging. I think it’s finding the right balance of living life vs documenting life (I can go deeper into this topic, trust me, but I won’t).

Anyways. we really miss you guys. We had a rough time before work started to keep ourselves busy. So about work…

First week of work for me was real interesting… just trying to get the right vibe and culture of work takes a little time. Fortunately, I work next door to where we live so the commute takes a few minutes walking – which is great because I can meet Downy for lunch or rush home if there is an emergency. But also, it could be bad because I may never leave work if things get busy because I live so close to home.

I posted some photos below but one thing you notice here is the complete reverance and loyalty to the King & Queen. Their pictures are everywhere… I mean everywhere. 20 ft photos with fancy decorations in gold. I think he’s been in power for 60 years and there is a lot of love and respect for him. I was told from co-workers not to talk badly about the royal family and that if I did, I could get in DEEP trouble.

This is the front steps of my work building.

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Koi fish in the lobby fountain (good for us, not so much for the fish).

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In case you missed the king at the front, he’s by the elevators too.

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Work is good so far, just getting to know my neighbors around me. Sometimes I forget that I’m working in Thailand until I walk out into the hallways and see tons of Thai people speaking Thai… and then it hits me. I am in Thailand. What? What the heck did I do? I miss NY. haha. Crazy how that happens. But I do think there is a reason for us being here for the moment. But I think it has something to do with what Downy is doing here and the recent success of the blind project (more on that later).

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If you’ve been searching for God, well, here you go.

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Sad but true – you get awards in advertising.

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So work – same ol’ same ol’. I’m already working on a tv spot for an ice cream company here. Did a 15 second storyboard and waiting for the illustrations to come in tomorrow. And also, one of the perks of speaking English pretty well is that you will get used as a voice over talent if they need you for emergency. On Friday, I was a voice over talent for a deodorant tv commercial… so that was cool. Anyways, enough about work.

Downy’s health is good. Her stomach is getting bigger and so are her calves! There is a lot of walking here in Thailand and a lot of sweating. But, fortunately, there is a lot of taxis here and they are CHEAP. For the New Yorkers reading this… seriously, it is unbelievably cheap (imagine taking a cab from JFK to Grand Central for $5 instead of $50). The hospital here is great and the healthcare and inexpensive as as well. We went to the doctor yesterday and the baby’s heart beat is strong. Downy says this will be her 2nd child. Can’t wait for my son / little brother!

This is a snapshot of the hospital hallways.

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Downy getting groceries.

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I found a park nearby where I run in the mornings called Lumphini Park. It’s like Central Park except filled with thousands of old people running and doing tai chi. It’s like running through a kung fu movie with a bunch of extras of senior citizens. I think in the early mornings like 6 am, this is my favorite time in Bangkok. This is where the city wakes up and breathes it’s first breath. It is a spiritual and peaceful place. I get sentimental when I’m there in the park because I think of my parents. It reminds me that when people get old… we don’t need to cash in our chips, sit around and wait. We can LIVE. We can enjoy time… look forward to each morning to meet our friends. To laugh, to excercise, to have quiet time alone, to have coffee, and talk. I can’t wait till I get old so I can be among them… the old geezer still cracking inappropriate jokes. Below are a few photos of Tai Chi people… there are a lot more.

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But something tells me I’m gonna be more like the guy doing Tai Chi alone next to a tree.

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And I found a bball court! I put down the camera and played a couple of fullcourt pickup games. This won’t be my last time here.

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Oh yeah, if you run, careful. Watch out for the 5 ft carnivorious lizards.

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Just got this photo from my sister in law and it made me happy. My mom, brother (and his wife), my sister, niece, and friends did the Race For The Cure over the weekend in Dallas.

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Church has been good too. I think we are going to commit to a church here called LifeCenter. A very different kind of church… more about connecting with the local people on a very personal and small group level. Spiritually, it’s been good – we’ve had some rough moments, but hasn’t everyone? “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” or the simple man’s version, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Anyways, the title of this post is ‘starting work, etc, etc’ – I should have added a few more etc’s in there as this post is a bit all over the place.

Thanks for all your encourgement and prayers. That stuff works you know. Really. It does. Just ask him.

Peace & love.

Liem

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IMG_4896NLThis is a photo from the spring trip. Little did I know, I’d be spending the rest of the year sitting in this same room, volunteering.

This week I started volunteering at Night Light. http://www.nightlightinternational.com
My duties will include assisting Annie, the woman in charge of it all.
Also, I get hang out and connect with the women making jewelry.

The first morning I was introduced to the other volunteers and women working here, I recognized many of them from the eye exams in February, they remembered me as well!

I ended up sitting and speaking with some of the girls making jewelry in the morning. I attempted to make some jewelry but failed miserably! I have to say, the skill level of the girls was incredible: very intricate beadwork. It’s definitely upper level craftsmanship.

I had lunch in-house with the other volunteers, each day a few of the women who work there take turns making lunch: home style Thai food and communal fellowship. Reminded me of Baan Immanuel (Ron’s orphanage) in Chiang Rai.

It turns out my daily schedule includes starting each morning out with and hour of worship. How wonderful it is to start off each morning in a room of redeemed women each morning, singing songs of praise in Thai?

Once a week, the volunteers have Bible study over lunch.

I cannot even begin to express how blessed I feel to be involved with Night Light. Between worship, Bible study, communing with the girls, can this get any better? Stay tuned.

-Downy

Out + About

So work doesn’t start for me for another week and a half… giving us time to wander around the city. It’ s hot here. Like in NY it’s nice because when summer arrives EVERYONE wears shorts and sheds clothing. But in Bangkok, it’s hot all the time… and no one wears shorts. I don’t know why. In the fashion advertisements you see people wearing shorts. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous. That being said, I already bought a couple of work pants.

We’re doing quite a bit of baby shopping for supplies and bought our first crib. Sometimes I forget that Downy is pregnant and has our son growing inside of her. And then, other times, I realize our life is going to change quite a bit when we have a kid.

Below is a crib I put together anticipating our new arrival in December.

Luckily, we met some new friends here in Bangkok who have kids of their own. Their names are Daniel and Paulina Brolin. They are a married couple from Sweden who came to Bangkok to plant a church called LifeCenter (www.lifecenter.asia). Daniel is a Swedish graphic designer and his wife keeps busy with their 4 children. Anyways, they’re the first Christians we’ve connected with and have been really encouraging so far.

Daniel, Paulina, and their kids.

Daniel and me at the Thailand Open (major tennis tournament).

And also, Downy’s cousins live here and they have a couple of kids of their own as well. They’ve been giving us a lot of advice and recommendations for doctors / hospitals. Below are a couple of snaps of their son and daughter (Plubb and Pinn) when they came over to our place for a swim.

So that’s about it so far. We’ve been skyping a lot (mostly with our parents) but if you want to skype us and video chat feel free to. My skype sn is limb.when so go on and add me. Anyways, below are a few snaps we took of just being out + about.

Food here is cheap and quite good. Seriously, it is cheap.

It’s official. We’ve changed banks.

They are not afraid of covering entire trains with ads. The ads here are inescapable.

And then we ate at a seafood restaurant where they had weird exotic creatures in a tank. Below is a sea salamander which they pulled out of the tank and sliced it open. We ate the little guy raw with vinegar carrots and lime. Real chewy like calamari. what an experience! NO JOKE!!!

Ok. Fine. I was only joking. We actually went to the aquarium and snapped some photos.

… some floating implants.

And that’s all folks… until next time. Thanks for stopping by… Miss you.

Liem

Settling In…

Lots of changes: where do we go for groceries? Who will be our friends? Will Liem like his new workplace? Will I be able to navigate all the stairs to get to the skytrain when I’m 9 months pregnant??

IMG_8408Usual traffic jam outside our apartment building

Exciting and scary.

We know we are blessed with an amazing start: My pregnant 16+ hour flight from NYC to Hong Kong was bearable, my amazing husband rubbed my back and helped me stretch in the back of the plane every few hours. All while he was sick.

The apartment is amazing: a condo that couldn’t sell, so the owner furnished and rented it to us at a very low price. We are the first occupants, had to take the plastic off the furniture and electronics.

My cousin and his wife have been such a valuable asset to us, showing us the ropes and giving us tips for settling in, and baby advice. They know what we are going through, since they temporarily relocated to Texas a few years ago.

IMG_8265My baby bump at 27 1/2 weeks.

Went to see my new obstetrician yesterday. I was very happy with his knowledge and bedside manners. Very thorough and took his time answering ALL my questions. I know Baby Nguyen will be taken care of. Hospital facilities were amazing! Health care in Thailand is top notch.

Because Liem was getting over a cold, and we were both jet lagged, Liem and I had a lot of time to think. We rely on each other at a whole new level, since it will be just us two for a while as we try to build community.

As we look back on our time in NYC, we think of all the milestones: getting married, amazing friends, amazing church, growing and maturing, The Blind Project… And especially the last few weeks before moving, all the friends who rallied around us, sending us off in love and prayer, family time in Texas. It was a lot to handle emotionally.

We are excited to see what’s in store for us here in BKK.

-Downy

Back in Bangkok

Just to update everyone, we are back in Bangkok… this time, we’re living here.

It was very difficult leaving New York because of the history we’ve had there with friends. Lots of friends. It was also tough because my parents made a last minute trip to the city to be with us on our final week in the city. Saying goodbye to friends is one thing and saying goodbye to parents is another. Two difficult blows left me emotionally drained. Below are a few photos snapped from the skies.

The Empire State Building. A place I will always remember as the spot where me, Won, Jimmy, and Andy would meet every Wednesday morning at 7:30 am to sit, pray, and encourage one another.

a few photos shot from the skies of NY

We will miss New York. The city. The people. And without question, we will miss our families. We plan to be in Bangkok for a couple of years as I received a job offer as a Creative Director at Lowe (a large ad agency). While I’m at work, Downy will be volunteering with NightLight – an organization that helps disadvantaged and abused women and children.

Bangkok feels familiar to us because we’ve been here a few times before, but most recently 8 months ago in February. We are living in the Sathorn district (it’s like the business area) of Bangkok. We’re fortunate to have found our apartment- a fully furnished 2 bedroom. But most importantly, it is literally next door to my work so I can rush home quick if Downy needs me. And, oh yeah, she will probably need me at some point because we’re expecting our first kid! Our son (it’s a boy!) is due right around December 23rd.

Anyways, I start work in 3 weeks (October 12) so we are just getting used to the city here, the culture, and the language. We know that there will be some tough times but we’re in it together. Downy will be my best friend because she is the only person I will be able to communicate with in English. So, that’s it. We’re starting back at zero trying to find community, church, and baby supplies.

Thanks for reading this & thanks for your support.

Liem

Closing thoughts…

We’re back in NYC, back to the daily grind. It took me a while to post this entry because… I was at a loss for words…

This amazing experience we were both blessed to have the chance to take, with our jobs still intact in this economy and our apartment in pristine condition after the sublease.

I learned so much about life: my roots, heritage, culture, poverty, dispair, and hope. I don’t want to forget, so I journal. We (Liem and I, The Blind Project, etc) cannot fix the entire problem. We can only offer to help be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. If we did not ground ourselves in God’s word, it would have been impossible to see into the lives of sex trafficking victims and keep our sanity. It also helps that my amazing husband is here to experience all of it with me. To laugh, to cry out, to discover… a true partner in life.
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It was nearly impossible to leave. So much work left undone. So many relationships to cultivate: with staff, with girls, women, children. So many things to discover and learn… about myself, life, and the world.

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But I have to trust that God does not need me or us to fix this entire problem. He invites us all to be part of the solution. Sometimes I believe it, and sometimes my dispair at witnessing such pain consumes me. Somehow I get back to trusting God. He allowed me to provide these people with vision care, but opened up so many more riches in my heart. I felt more spiritually and physically alive in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, than I’ve ever felt.

I have no idea what the future holds, or when or how God will say “Go!” but am so humbled to be part of an alternate story. Significance.

So thank you for all of the emails and facebook posts in support of me, us, the cause, etc. But, I am not special or super human, simply obedient. I hope that this little blog is inspirational to you: If God says go, GO!

Downy

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Back to the USA.

terrifynomoreThis trip to Southeast Asia has been a success. But before reflecting back, I just want to note on how it all began. It started in 2006, in a NY apartment with three roommates (me, Anthony, Chad) who read a book called “Terrify No More”. We discovered stories of young girls (some as young as 5) in Southeast Asia who were rescued from sex trafficking. They were slaves – trapped inside brothels and forced to have sex with 10-15 strangers a night. We didn’t understand why this was happening and we wanted to help. So we took a trip to Southeast Asia to uncover the truth for ourselves. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into so the name The Blind Project (theblindproject.com) made a lot of sense. Plus, we wanted to use our advertising skills to open the eyes of the world.

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The three of us have been on mission trips before but this one was different. After it was over, the trip never left us. We had renewed minds and continued to spread awareness about the issue. We wanted to unite people for the cause and create a louder voice.

“In 2007, slave traders made more money than Google, Starbucks, and Nike combined.” Slavery is still alive and well today because it generates a lot of money. It will take a united effort to put an end to this injustice.

The Blind Project isn’t about me, Anthony or Chad. It’s about everyone. Y is The Blind Project – she’s a makeup artist who provided makeovers to the women to uplift their self image. Kevin is The Blind Project – a strategic planner who met with organizations in Southeast Asia to lay out plans for future collaborations. The New Room – a rock band that wrote a song about us and sex trafficking called Pretty Little Things (click link to listen). Annalynne McCord – a Hollywood actress who frequently uses her publicity to talk about the issue to the media… we are all The Blind Project

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***

Switching gears to our personal lives…

A few months before leaving for Asia, Downy and I were both really stressed. I was stressed about planning the fund raiser and Downy was stressed by all the administrative work. We had no intentions of giving eye exams at all. And after talking one night, she was in tears and said the words “this is not my dream”.

And it finally dawned on me… night after night, Downy has been coming home from work (helping people with their eyes) only to come home with a stack of to-do lists with all the gritty administrative stuff for The Blind Project. For the past two years she has been putting her dreams aside to help implement mine.

“What is your dream?” I asked. She said she wanted to go on a mission trip and help people with their eyes. And that’s where it all began. She was afraid because usually there are mission trips of 10-20 optometrists who do this kind of stuff… not just 1. But I told her that every one would help her out. And slowly but surely, things started to happen. We got tons of glasses donated and money to make the lenses donated too. I put my personal agenda aside, and decided my only duty on this trip was to serve my wife the best I could. And everything worked out.

So how did we link eye exams back to fighting sex trafficking?

We served organizations in Southeast Asia who were rescuing and providing rehabilitation to sex trafficked victims. After all, if education and job skills training are part of the rehabilitation program… then they should have good eyes.

This trip has been really good because it showed me that things don’t always have to go my way. Great things can happen in many ways, you just have to be flexible enough to let those opportunities come.

Everyone is good at something, and chances are, it can be used for something positive. I get a lot of emails asking “What can I do?” and that’s something that people have to ask themselves. Because, honestly, if I provided that answer… I don’t think Downy would’ve given eye exams in Asia. And that would’ve been a shame.

Thank you all for your prayers and support.

God Bless,

Liem

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