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Eastside Church of Christ hosts volleyball tournament

Tim Curran

The Iu Mien congregation at Eastside Church of Christ organized a volleyball tournament at Knott Park last month to raise money for its youth and women's programs. The host team pictured here won its division of the tournament.
Taking time out between games to pose are, from left, tourney organizer and Eastside Church of Christ team Captain Tseng Saechao, Pastor Yoon Ai Zeuz and Assistant Pastor Foomeng Zanh.
Eastside Church of Christ Pastor Yoon Ai Zeuz doubles as a volleyball referee during his church's twelve-team volleyball tournament held last month.
Twelve teams in two divisions participated in the day-long tournament held at Knott Park last month. Snapshot from a game in the Over 40/Novice Division.
The Eastside Church of Christ team, eventual Division A champions, during an opening-round game.
Last month the Iu Mien congregation from Eastside Church of Christ created four volleyball courts at Knott Park for its second tournament in three years, raising funds for its women's and youth programs.
Twelve men's teams, including four from Seattle and “a couple of guys from California,” split into two separate divisions for the all-day, double-elimination competition.

There were six four-man teams in Division A for those under 40 years of age and more competitive. Division B, the Over 40/Novices grouping, also had six teams; however, because they couldn't cover as much ground as they used to, there were six players on each side.

When Eastside Church of Christ Pastor Yoon Ai Zeuz was asked why volleyball and not some other sport, he said, “We use it (volleyball) for God's work.”

A picnic of traditional Mien and Asian dishes was served at lunchtime. The first three teams in each division received a new volleyball as a prize.

The host team, Eastside Church of Christ, won the Division A crown and the No Name team from Seattle took first in Division B.

Thirty-five years ago, with the fall of Vietnam, and because the Iu Mien had fought alongside Americans in their Laotian homeland against the North Vietnamese-equipped and trained Pathet Lao-the Vietnamese equivalent of the Viet Cong-over 50,000 Mien began immigrating to the United States. Locating primarily on the West Coast, the Iu Mien faced and still face challenges unlike other immigrant groups. Besides the usual hurdles for émigrés, the Iu Mien faced additional obstacles to acculturation: their language had no alphabet; they came from an ancient, primitive farming culture to the modern United States; they lacked identity as a people.

Almost thirty years ago, parishioners at Eastside Church of Christ sponsored Iu Mien Christians coming to Portland. According to Church secretary Deb Hubbel, “We supported them financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically as they adjusted and got used to being in America. Over the years, they've become independent; even though we're one church so to speak, they operate independently from us in many ways.”

Because of the language barrier, two Sunday Services were established. Numbering over 180 members, the English-speaking part of the congregation meets at 9:30 a.m. Over one hundred members strong, the Iu Mien congregation meets Sundays at 2 p.m. for their worship service and Bible class. Every two or three months the congregations hold a joint Sunday service.

Non-denominational, Eastside Church of Christ is at 9030 N.E. Glisan St., their Website is

There are no plans to do it next year, but tournament organizer and Eastside Church of Christ team captain Tseng Saechao said, “We'll see how it goes.”
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