Thursday, March 26, 2015


As I’ve run this week, my mind has continued to come back to this series of events that unfolded as I departed Vietnam:


Yesterday afternoon a woman was in the ward of a hospital I was visiting with a baby who had doe like eyes and dimples and the sweetest disposition.  She offered the baby to me to hold.  I took her and asked through a translator about the baby’s name and age.  She is six months old and her name is Thien.  I asked the translator to tell the mother that her daughter was absolutely adorable.  The translator looked at me and said this woman is not the mother, the baby is an orphan.  I felt my arms clinch the baby a bit tighter.  I asked if she was being adopted.  The woman said that she probably would not be.  It was one of those moments when you know you cannot fix the whole of the problem, but part of the solution is right before you.  Obviously, I couldn’t just leave Vietnam with a child, but still, the desire for this child to have a home, maybe even to share mine, was very real.

Twelve hours later I boarded a flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hong Kong and then from Hong Kong to Chicago.  Waiting in line for the bathroom on the plane from Hong Kong, I met a baby named Veronica who was on her way to her new home with her adoptive parents.  Veronica was to receive treatment for the same condition as baby Thien that I met the day before.  Veronica’s new parents were beaming.  I told them I work with children like their daughter and spoke with them about what a bright, hopeful future lies ahead for Veronica.  I inquired as to who would treat her in the States – a physician I was just with in Madagascar.

Sometimes problems seem so big and unfixable.  A beautiful infant with no home and the thousands upon thousands of orphans that she represents.  My inability to do anything about it.  At the same time, quite literally on the same day, another baby is traveling home with her new, beaming parents.  There are things unseen; matters are being arranged.  Love is on the move.  Take heart.


  • Anna

    This is really resonates with me. I work in development in the Middle East and North Africa and my heart is heavy after the attack in Tunisia last week and what it could mean for a country that is getting back on its feet. “Big and unfixable” problems is exactly how I would describe it.

    • Kristin

      hi anna, it can be so tough working in the face of “big and unfixable” but slowly i am learning that presence matters. presence through our work, presence in our thoughts, presence of our hearts. thanks for what you do.

  • Pam and Christine

    Wow, I am so impressed your photos and travels. While living in England for 5 years, my husband and I caught the travel bug and visited every continent during about a 6 year time frame. Our time in Vietnam was unique because we used private guides with small groups to really see things in a more unique way. I love your photos and it will be a treat to follow you wherever your work or adventures take you.

    • Kristin

      thanks so much! incredible that you visited every continent — i would love to do that. what was your favorite part of vietnam?

  • Lisa @ RunWiki

    I am in tears. This is the most moving post. I must say, that when you commented on my silly blog post and I clicked to see who you were, I was not expecting this very deep and touching post. Although I am thrilled that you stumbled upon my blog, I am even more thrilled to have found you. I spent a month in Vietnam in 2002. I have a deep and personal relationship with the people and the country, that I can’t explain. I’m not sure what brought you there in the first place, but the story you shared underscores how sheltered and oblivious most Americans are to the suffering around the world. Thank you for opening our eyes, but also sharing a Veronica’s fortune. I just finished reading a book to my children called, “Inside Out & Back Again” by Thanhha Lai — it was an amazing story (told in poetry) of a small girl’s experience going from war torn Vietnam, to refugee, to Alabama. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. A must read. SO happy to find you! xo

    • Kristin

      lisa, thanks so much for your kind words. vietnam really is an incredible place. i would love to know more about your experience there. i don’t have children, but i often think about when i do and how i might expose them to the reality and bigness of the world. it sounds like you’ve found ways to bring that knowledge to your kids. i am definitely going to find this book. thanks for finding your way to this little corner of the internet.

  • Debbie @ Deb Runs

    So happy that baby Veronica has found a home, and that someday baby Thien will find her family as well.

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