June 2018, a journey from Orange County to Thu Duc.
This would be Maddie's second trip to Mai Tam House of Hope. Her last visit in 2016 left her longing to come back and see the friends she met back there. This time her friend Emma, another young member of Christmas for Breakfast from Colorado, would be joining her. Maddie remembered the many questions her friends at Mai Tam had for her when she visited. What time do you go to school? How do you get to school? What kind of food do you eat? What do you do for fun?...Maddie couldn't answer many of those questions back then since she couldn't speak Vietnamese well.
Maddie and Emma eagerly prepared for the visit. They made a short movie summarizing Maddie's daily routine in her home, her school, with her friends...Then it was time to pack: Spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, frozen meatballs, M&Ms, tablecloths, plates, napkins, utensils, and cherries! The dinner date with 100 children had been set at Mai Tam and our volunteer team was bringing everything needed for a spaghetti dinner with Mai Tam children.
We arrived at Mai Tam in the afternoon. Viviane, our head chef, started to prepare dinner with helps from a few older girls. The younger kids looked on with excitement and eagerness to try the "Italian noodle" that Father Toai had talked about after returning from Rome. As soon as they finished saying grace, the little ones dove right into their plates. Maddie looked at them and an immense sense of gratitude felt over her. Those sauce-smeared faces with smiles grinned from cheek to cheek had melt away all her tiredness. Every effort in packing and transporting the ingredients from the other side of the globe were all worthy!
Maddie and Emma bonded over their love for boba and milk tea with many of the older girls. They huddled, and talked, and laughed like they've known each other for ages. Occasionally, a little kid ran over to pull Emma and Maddie away to play tag on the house's stairway, or to show off the artworks they created. It's hard to believe that many of these children were once at the verge of death.
We ended the night in a prayer circle. The girls prayed for Maddie and Emma's safety as we continue our trip. Emma and Maddie prayed for their friends health and well-being knowing how fragile they are. We headed out with our hearts forever etched with the children's voices and faces.