50th wedding anniversary
Photo by Vuong Chien

Janet and Stan Reedy (right center) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on August 25, 2012, while serving with MCC in Vietnam.

The relationship of Janet and Stan Reedy with MCC spans five decades and several milestone events.

Both Janet and Stan, who attend Shalom Community Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, lived overseas before they were married. So international service with MCC at some point was a given in their minds. When Stan got drafted following his first year of medical internship, that time arrived faster than they may have anticipated.

The Reedys served with MCC in Indonesia, in rural Java, from 1967-1971. Stan worked as a medical doctor, and Janet taught English and helped develop a foster care program. Following their three-and-a-half years in Indonesia, they returned to the States where Stan finished his medical training.

By 1987, Janet and Stan were ready for overseas work with MCC again. They had kept up their contacts in Indonesia, so were initially interested in returning there. However, Janet was offered the position of Thailand Country Representative and Stan the position of Vietnam Representative, both based out of Bangkok. While on their service term in Thailand, the Reedys celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.

After the Vietnam War ended, all MCCers had to leave Vietnam and no NGO was permitted to have an office in Vietnam. But in the early 1980s, Louise Buhler, an MCCer, began regularly visiting Vietnam in her work with MCC.

By early 1990, MCC was one of the first NGOs that re-opened offices in Vietnam. At that point, Janet and Stan became Co-Country Representatives for Vietnam and moved from Bangkok to Hanoi.

“Things were very tightly controlled in Vietnam at the time,” said Janet. In fact, an MCC service worker was mysteriously deported after teaching an English class. Remembering the event is still emotional for the Reedys, and for several weeks they lived in fear that they too would be deported.

“We developed a lot of relationships with a lot of different people, especially working in health care and education,” said Stan. “Things began to unfold and more trust was developed.” They completed their term in 1992.

Stan continued to return to Vietnam to do some consulting for MCC over the next several years. “As we approached retirement, we told MCC that we would be available for a short term MCC assignment in Indonesia,” said Janet.

In 2008, they served in Papua, Indonesia for four months, where Janet taught English in a theological school. “It was good for us, because it was a very different view of Indonesia than in Java,” said Janet. “Indonesia is made up of so many different ethnic groups.”

In 2011, the Reedys returned to Vietnam on their own, to see the place where they had served 21 years earlier. “We realized we wanted to see Vietnam again, perhaps for the last time,” said Stan. “We planned a nostalgia trip. We thought it would be our last trip there.”

Little did they know, they would indeed end up in Vietnam again. In April of 2012, they were asked to fill an interim country representative position in Vietnam. “We were really excited,” said Janet. “It didn’t take us very long to say yes.”

So on August 25, 2012, Janet and Stan again found themselves celebrating a milestone anniversary in Asia – this time commemorating 50 years of marriage in Vietnam.

Reflecting back over their service in Vietnam, Stan said, “The providing of hope to people who are in desperate circumstances, that’s one of the real gifts.”

“After the war, Vietnam was isolated,” said Janet. “But MCC hung in there with them. When we visited people, that’s what they said. ‘You did not forget us, and we will not forget that.’”

Their years of service with MCC remain etched in Janet and Stan’s lives as well. “It’s hard to imagine how we would see the world if we hadn’t had these experiences,” said Janet.