Friday evening after returning from Ha Long Bay our tour group went to the Nha Hat Lon Ha Noi Opera House in Hanoi. We went to see the Vietnam National Opera & Ballet. It was a very special evening entitled Nocturne of Love. In the first section the orchestra and three choirs performed famous choruses and arias from Handel’s Messiah. We were very moved to be in this famous Opera House in a communist country and be listening to a Christian message. It brought tears to our eyes and gave us goosebumps. The performance was so well presented. Luke Martin wanted to stand when they sang the last number, the Hallelujah Chorus, “as is the tradition all over the world.” The choir and orchestra got a standing ovation.
Saturday morning Thaddeus Hochstetler joined us for breakfast. He shared with us how Vietnam is changing economically, socially and religiously. We found his insight very informative. Thaddeus is an American Mennonite professor who married a Vietnamese woman and makes his home here. He told us that the Vietnamese people are highly tolerant and forgiving. They got over the war very quickly because they wanted to move on.
As we traveled to Danang we spent 20 minutes circling the airport before landing, due to heavy rain. This is the monsoon season. When we landed and walked off the plane our glasses immediately steamed up.
In Danang we saw the famous Dragon Bridge which is 1,864 feet long. At night it shoots fire from its mouth.
Our guide pointed out the Marble Mountains on our drive to Hoi An. We could not walk up the mountain to the lookout due to the rain. We did do some shopping and looking at the marble crafts available for purchase.
In Hoi An we walked to the old town. We were fascinated with the silk industry in Hoi An. While there we had an interpretation of the silk worms and how they raise them and spin the silk. Even the worm that is left dead after the process is edible and enjoyed as a delicacy. Nothing is wasted. Tour members enjoyed being measured and choosing materials for dresses and shirts. There are over 600 tailors operating in Hoi An. Our clothes will be made and delivered to our hotel by 3 p.m. tomorrow.
This morning we walked to the old town to worship with the Hoi An Mennonite Church. Our group sang several hymns, and Wilmer preached on Love Casts out Fear with Luke translating. Following the service the congregation shared with us over refreshments which were delicious fruits: bananas, dragon fruit and fresh pineapple.
What a wonderful place to spend a Sunday afternoon. We walked in the Old Town. Our guide told us that this is the number one tourist destination in Vietnam. The Old Town dates back to 1511 and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The wooden bridge over the river dates to 1535. We enjoyed talking to the locals as well as tourists from Australia and many other countries.
At 4 p.m. Pastor Sang came with one other member of the congregation to take us to the site of their new church building. Our 2014 tour group decided to raise money to buy a lot for a church building. Up to now the congregation has been worshiping in the home of Pastor Sang. Plans are to begin building in the new year. Several members of our group want to help to raise money and come with teams to help build the meetinghouse. They expect it could be completed in 8 weeks. We joined hands and prayed that God might direct this new site which will serve as a worship centre as well as a Bible school. What a wonderful faithprint for TourMagination.
Tomorrow we fly to Da Lat to continue our exciting tour in this beautiful country.
– Wilmer Martin