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Family Newsletter - Sep/Oct 2001

Past Issues: 1998 June July August Sept Oct Nov/Dec 1999 Jan/Feb March/April May June July Sept/Oct Nov/Dec 2000 Jan/Feb Mar/Apr May/Jun Jul/Aug Sep/Oct 2001 Jan/Feb May/June

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
-Psalm 23

This has been a very hard time for all of us. I thought this Psalm was a comforting one so I decided to open this newsletter with this reminder of God's care. It's good to have a family like ours to help support each other through times like this.

Chris is in New York right now. He went back as soon as he heard about the attack. He says that television coverage doesn't begin to show the devastation there, but that New Yorkers are pulling together with amazing strength. He'll write something about what's happening there for our next issue.

If you've ever wanted to hear about a dedicated fisherman, be sure to read Uncle John's stories of his years of looking for the perfect fishing spots; we added the third set of stories in this issue. Also included is another part of Aunt Wilma's life story; I especially enjoyed her telling about her days as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse. Barb has a 4th article on tips for good nutrition (this one is about having a healthy heart), there are two Mennonite recipes (Rull Coka and Fried Ham & Keelke), and in the children's art section is a really wonderful picture by Gentry about things happening in India (not that I'm prejudiced....). I'm always looking for new stories to add to our collection so take a bit of time, sit down with a pen or at the computer, and write down your memories of our family life to share with the next generations. This is important. Thanks. -Jo

From: Dale and Jamie

ANTHONY RYAN ZAPATA was born to Dale and Jamie on March 14th. He weighed 8 lbs., 6.oz. and was 20 inches long.

From: Mike, Cindy and Nicholas

A new member of the Dahl tribe, BRENDON MAXWELL DAHL, arrived August 29th at 8:12 P.M. by C-section; he was almost 9 lbs! His parents are Mike and Cindy and his big brother is Nicholas; they now live in Philadelphia.

From: Harlan and Carol

I took it fairly easy this summer, taking about a month off to spend time playing with my kids, and reading and watching movies. Mary spent a month in camp: two weeks at a camp near Santa Cruz, and two weeks at a computer camp at Stanford. Katie, at her insistence, spent the summer in school (the kids' school goes 12 months a year with only 8 vacation days, so a kid could spend over 250 days a year in school if they went all the time). Last week we all went to a family reunion (in Zion, IL) of my dad's side of the family. It was very hot and humid, which was hard on those of us from California, but we had a wonderful time with my cousins and their families.

The first picture is of Carol and Mary at camp, carrying Mary's duffel bag into her cabin. The second picture is of Katie trying on her life vest in preparation for the trip to Illinois (one of my cousins brought a motorboat, and we needed to make sure that Katie had a vest she could wear). Unfortunately, there are no pictures of me, and few of the reunion, since we were camping and the battery on my camera died after only a few shots... -Harlan

Carol helping Mary with her duffel bag at camp

Katie checking her life vest for Illinois trip

From: Gwen

We made a spectacular trip to Russia. Flew to Copenhagen and took a luxury cruise to St. Petersburg with stops at Estonia, Sweden, Finland and Germany. Got on the ship as passengers and disembarked as cargo as we had eaten far too much. Our luggage was unloaded during our last night on board. As we forgot to leave out a shirt for Dick he got off wearing his pajama top but they made us get off anyway - shucks - we could have gone another round or two.

Then a week's trip to Buffalo to see Dick's 92 year-old mother and now back home and ready to begin teaching tomorrow. Bummer. Oh yes, the grasshoppers are even worse than last year, which we did not think possible. They have eaten all the leaves off of many trees and now are eating the bark as well. Many bushes are destroyed as well. I spray twice a day around the house and expect I will die from the chemicals long before the grasshoppers do. We need a long cold cold winter to kill the eggs or a return of the fire ants which find the grasshopper eggs a delicacy. I guess I could go into the business of making chocolate-covered grasshoppers and sell them and get rich.

From: Nikhil

I just got an email note from Nikhil. He's currently in Laos. I'll see if he can send us some more pictures.

From: Sandra

I wanted to let you know that Lori, my sister, has her own line of skin care products that she sells in the salon in which she works and on the internet. Anyone interested in checking it out could support her new business. Web site is www.simplyskin.com. I use the Simply Skin products (of course). Lucky to have an aesthetician in the family!

Anyway, thinking of you and the whole family and sending thoughts of love and happiness.
Love, Sandra

From: Loey

Over our spring break (7 weeks) Gary went to the U.S. for a medical checkup and to see the new grandson. That gave me several weeks on my own so after finishing up at school I headed for Thailand where I learned Thai massage in Chiang Mai through an intensive one week course. Then I went to Bangkok to meet Nikhil and we enjoyed a week on an island beach near Cambodia.

Schedule your massages with Loey soon; her schedule is filling up

Hut in Thailand where Loey and Nikhil stayed for $2 per night

Nikhil in the Hua Hin railway station

Back in Bangkok we met up with Gary, Phyl and Elmer for a few days in Hua Hin at the fabulous Sofitel Resort (recommended by Paul and now a family favorite). Niks left us for some rock climbing in Kraabi, Phyl and Elmer for a conference in Cha'am, and Gary and I took the train to Malaysia. We stayed on the island of Rudang ... only open 10 years and already in the middle stages of destruction due to excess construction and tourism. I decided it was time to get my scuba certification which I had avoided for years...it was great fun as I had the instructor to myself, diving in near perfect conditions (also less than a quarter of the price for the same certificate in the U.S.). Finally to Chennai to meet Priya who is now in Kodai for a year. GREAT vacation.

Beach in Malaysia

Master Scuba Divers Loey and Gary


Our cousin Luetta Hiebert Harder (Uncle George Hiebert's oldest daughter) died in Mt. Lake on July 8, 2001. Our family sent a memorial for her to the Eventide Home where Uncle George lives and where Grandma Jungas lived during her last years and Mom stayed for awhile. They wrote back that they will use the gift to help beautify the backyard area, where they are landscaping and installing a fish pond for the residents' enjoyment. I think Mom would have liked this.

Marilyn, Luetta's younger sister, shared some interesting information. She said that Mom and Aunt Elizabeth were such close friends that they promised to name a daughter after each other. That's how Betty got her name, and since Aunt Elizabeth wasn't crazy about the name "Anna," she decided to use Mom's middle name of "Luetta" instead.

Eventide Home in Mt. Lake, Summer of 2000

From: Phyllis

Our trip out to Viet Nam this summer deserves mention in that when we arrived in L.A. at 8:30 pm. for a 12:30 flight out, we were told a crew member had gotten sick so they flew in a replacement, but he had to sleep first, so departure was delayed until 5:30 am. We stretched out on the airport carpet, I had my bag of wool for a pillow. So we'd already been up almost 24 hours when we finally left.

We first flew to Bangkok where we met Loey and Nikhil at the airport, took 3-hour bus ride to the coast city Hua Hin to spend 2 days at a luxury (I mean LUXURY) hotel with 4 swimming pools and shrubs clipped to look like birds and elephants. Gary showed up as well, coming from the US. Lazy days in the pool, breakfasts on the beach at a small table under beach umbrella, very cheap. Ken and Fran joined us for an afternoon with the kids for swimming. Then the Martens clan went on to Cha Am not too far off for an MCC conference. Elmer was a major speaker using OT texts, and I had a presentation to a small group on how to thrive overseas, for which I had help from Betty and Gwen.

Breakfast with Loey, Gary & Nikhil near our luxury hotel in Thailand

Then on to Hanoi. Trip to Hoian, a beach town where you can have silk clothes made overnight (Fran did). By van to Hue, the ancient capital of Vietnam with the Forbidden Purple City (like its counterpart in Beijing except many building bombed and not rebuilt), also tombs of emperors. Very Chinese in style. Elmer and I also took a tour to Halong Bay with its hundreds of tiny rocky islands sticking straight up, four hours by boat to Catba Island for overnight in a hotel. The whole tour--4 hours by bus to the coast, 4 hours on a boat including seeing two huge caves, hotel room, return trip, 2 lunches 1 dinner 1 breakfast, cost us each $22. Then Ken and Fran with boys, Elmer and I took a van to the mountain village of Mai Chou where there is a sort of tourist motel Tay style--stilt houses. Very large room on stilts, bamboo floor with mats on top, really spacious and comfortable, very sensible architecture for hot country. A troupe of dancers entertained us, then they spread out futon mats and put up mosquito nets. Rather a warm night as the fans couldn't quite make it through the netting.

Next day we drove 1 1/2 hours on up the mountain on a small road to a Hmong village. Their houses are more primitive, made of boards, door but no windows, dirt floor. However the women make beautiful wall hangings and pillow covers with stitching of tiny strips of bright cloth plus embroidery. Everyone was more interested in Daniel and Loren than in the adults--but the boys hated the attention and walked away scowling.

Daniel, Rebecca Lan and Loren with grandparents in small courtyard in front of their house in Hanoi

Shopping in Hanoi for leather sandals, lacquer ware, pottery and such. When we got to the airport ready to leave I noticed that our huge suitcase containing this stuff was gaping open--the zipper was opening up. We quickly tied it up with purple string (actually hemp, I think) and hoped for the best.

It took us two weeks to get over jet lag and attendant lassitude, in hot Fresno weather.

Hanoi street market around the corner from Ken & Fran's house

Two philosophers guarding an emperor's tomb, Hue, Vietnam

From: Uncle John and Aunt Wilma

Uncle John and Aunt Wilma had a great adventure this summer. They went to the Cayman Islands to attend the wedding of one of Wilma's grandsons. He had met his bride in the islands while scuba diving, and so they decided to have the wedding there. Uncle John said it was beautiful. He also said the Cayman Islands are only 22 miles long and 8 miles wide---which surprised me. Uncle John and Aunt Wilma also visited a turtle farm and then went down in a submarine and saw all kinds and colors of fish. What a great experience.

Two weeks later they went to Nebraska to attend another grandson's wedding. They have been VERY busy!

Hiebert Family India Faculty Chair

Phyl and Elmer have been working with the Mennonite Brethren Mission and Service International to help raise money for a Hiebert endowed faculty chair for the M.B. Centenary Bible College in Shamshabad, India. This is an effort of the extended Hiebert family in memory of our grandparents: N. N. and Susie Hiebert and J.N.C. and Anna Hiebert. Also Paul and Fran worked in Shamshabad, helping to start the Bible College, and Eloise takes students to India to work with Indian students in micro-economic development and missions. If you would like to help with this effort, contact Phyl.

Hiebert Family India Faculty Chair Endowment Project

From: Jo

Our family went to the YMCA of the Rockies in August. We went through a very frightening time when John fell from the lodge porch and landed on cement about ten feet below; miraculously he came through okay and now is back to his too-adventuresome little self. Here are a few pictures from our time together.

Gentry and Steve examining elk-nibbled bark

John and Pete in the YMCA Lodge

Gentry and John listening to Uncle Chris's scary stories

John and his grandpa having fun at the Boulder mall

Mountain Climber Gentry


When I was in Mt. Lake last summer I took some pictures of places around town that had memories for our family. Among these are pictures I took of two houses that might be where Dad's family lived when they were young. Mom pointed the house out to me years ago but I'm not sure which one it was. Does anyone know which was the Hiebert family house--House #1 or House #2? I'm thinking it was the first one. Let me know what you think, okay?

House #1 - is this the Hiebert family home?

House #2 - or is this the one?

From: Ken and Fran

RE: August in Hanoi

Greetings to all, A quick update from Hanoi. Lauren (Fran's brother) and Heller and Anna are playing quietly downstairs while the kids and Fran nap upstairs. It's been a busy and very unusual few days here. But to back up...

Fran went down to meet Lauren and Heller in Saigon when they arrived in Vietnam July 15. After a week of trotting about in the south with them, including time in Saigon and Nha Trang (a favorite beach in the south), she came up to Hanoi. A few days later I took Loren down with me to Danang, where we met up with L/H/A. We had a wonderful 3 days together, visiting the ancient (7th-12th century) Cham ruins, marble mountain caves, and, the charming town of Hoi An (with a very charming hotel swimming pool of course!). We came up together late on Thursday evening, exhausted but having had a good time together.

That night it began to pour. It is the rainy season in the north of Vietnam, and the season has proved to be just that. The next morning Lauren and I were planning to go out with our Vietnamese staff to help distribute some relief asssistance in some communes we are working in--rice crops have been ruined twice in the past two months, many houses have collapsed and several people have died in one district in which we have a development program. The water levels near our house in Hanoi were already rising--almost to our gate when we left. After waiting for an hour for the car we finally found it stuck with nowhere to go on the main road--flood waters had trapped it in every direction. The car is a Russian Volga--not exactly the most inspiring rough weather vehicle ever designed. After one spectacular failure to pass through the churning waters we decided sanity was a better instinct than valor. Eventually we ordered another car (MCC rents cars to go out to project sites as we only have motorbikes and bikes for in-town driving) and we managed to get out of town, as the rain steadily poured down. Near the commune where we were going to distribute some aid (a total of about $4000), we had to push the rented SUV several times to get it through the muck, and at one commune we finally abandoned the car and walked a while, until several motorbikes picked us up, carrying us over the muddy roads and near the rain-soaked fields. The water line from the most recent flood was very visable--a muddy brown mark at about chest height through an entire village. A very appreciative group of villagers met us and welcomed the small amounts of relief (barely $15/person), targeted to those who were either the poorest and/or had lost the most in the floods. It was rather depressing to give out the assistance, knowing full well the rains that were coming down would likely again flood fields and homes once again in the coming days.

We returned home that evening, the rains in Hanoi having subsided enough that we only had to walk through knee deep (rather than chest deep!) water the final 50 feet from the road to our house. That night (last night) it began pouring again, and by morning the waters were lapping at the edge of the small garage where we park our motorbikes and bikes. The street immediately outside our house is a river--literally--as the flood waters sweep by and out to the nearest drainage canal around the corner. As the rains continued through the morning we realized it was time to pack some sandbags to put along the three doors that give us access in front. Early this afternoon the waters crested at about 1 inch below the level of the sandbags, but more rain is expected tonight and tomorrow, so we will see. We raised the piano and cupboards on the first floor about six inches off the ground to avoid the worst, but it is hard to know what tomorrow will bring. It becomes very obvious why Hanoi residents don't carpet their downstairs, and why tile floors are the norm.

We still have it better than many in Hanoi and in the rural areas. Even on our block we are lucky--we are at the high end of the block; over half of our neighbors have between 1 and 2 feet of water in the first floor. The main streets in our area are completely cut off--more than 3 or 4 feet of water drapes over Thai Ha and Lang Ha streets--the nearest main intersection. Motorbikes are drenched, cars sputter and stall; entrepreneurs wait at the edge of a flooded street section to revive drowned motorbikes and cars. The only effective means of transportation is the lowly bike, which one can pedal through water even when it rises above the wheels.

As things get worse the city must decide when to cut sections of the dike surrounding Hanoi to relieve pressure on it and save the downtown area. The homes in the sections that are broken are immediately deluged; homes that are usually belong to the poorest and most vulnerable. The Red River, which bends around Hanoi, is rising and more rain is expected in the mountains upstream. The large Hoa Binh dam in the north, which blocks the Da river before it flows into the Red River, now has 6 of the 8 floodgates open; if they must open the last two most likely things will get worse.

In short, it is quite a sight. The ritual of floods in Hanoi has truly come home to us. Pray for the people of Hanoi and especially in the rural areas around Hanoi as they deal with some of the worst flooding in a while. In the rural areas one has not only the waters but the mud, the slime, and the darkness to deal with (we are lucky as we still have both electricity and a phone connection).

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. Peace.