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Totally Joyful

This retreat has enriched my life in many unforgettable ways. There were 18 of us on this

most amazing journey. Initially shy and withdrawn, within only a few days, we were opening up and sharing our innermost thoughts, fears, and aspirations. Our play day with the children at one of the primary schools was a totally joyful, loving experience.

We had the opportunity to play games, interact, take Polaroid pictures, laugh and giggle

with so many wonderful primary school children. We had all brought school supplies to Ms. Vy, founder /director of For the Children, a local NGO. She brought many of the items to this school, and the children were given paper, stickers and colored pencils. The pure happiness, excitement, sharing and giving we received from the children, the teachers, Ms. Vy and those in the NGO was breath-taking and inspiring.

Being a teacher, I was enthralled at how the teachers and volunteers just gave of themselves, of all they had and were, to encourage the children to play, share, follow directions and be

respectful of themselves, their peers, and all adults. The day brought pure joy into my heart.

We had a day of mindfulness at Dieu Tram Hamlet and Tu Hieu Pagoda, our root temple.

Arising at 3:30 am, in order to arrive for the 5 am meditation with the nuns, joining working meditation to sweep the walkways and dirt areas in the sprinkling rain, and then partaking of the most lovely breakfast, and then being invited to lie down and take a nap.

The loving smiles of the nuns, the beauty of Tu Hieu, the gentle rain, the smiles of all as we sang in English and Vietnamese, waking to the soft singing of two nuns as we awoke from our afternoon nap. This was truly a day of love, sharing, questions and answers, much joyful singing, and ending with the Transmission of the 5 Mindfulness trainings during which 12 of us received Transmission. Pure, deep joy! This inspiring day was capped at the best Indian restaurant ever! I am filled with love, appreciation, and peace.

Barbara Sickles, Desert Cactus Sangha, Phoenix, Arizona USA

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