About fifteen minutes into what seemed would be an average day, thunder began to rumble and grey clouds swiftly rolled in. Not long after fierce wind and rain stung our skin and streams of muddy water rushed down the road. Bad visibility and reckless truck drivers drove half of the group to huddle under some trees while a few brave souls ventured on. Once the support van arrived, we crowded in to escape the rain until it let up about ten minutes later. The remainder of the cycle was without much more excitement besides dodging honking cars and trucks that nearly ran us off the road at times.
We arrived in Pleiku around dusk and took the vans to the orphanage. It was bedtime for the children by the time we arrived, and the peaceful atmosphere was a relief after hours spent in dusty traffic. We walked quietly through the halls and peered in on some of the sleeping children, learning about many of their heartbreaking stories. Most of them come from ethnic minority groups living in such poverty that many of their mothers had abandoned them. Despite this, we witnessed numerous smiles and giggles, demonstrating the happiness and hope the orphanage had given them.
As we listened and learned, we regained perspective on why we were cycling through the thunder, rain, mountains, and harrowing traffic of Vietnam. We went to sleep in tiny beds with bamboo mattresses ready to face the final leg of the journey. Stretching with some of the children before leaving the orphanage in the morning provided newfound motivation as we headed into the hot and sticky south.
Words: Ann Marie