I was all set to report on this morning’s first lesson where we received one sweet woman who came to learn more about God. She speaks rapid Spanish and needed to talk about her life, which she did most of the time and we all loved her up. It was a great beginning to our hopes of leading a bible study. She made three new friends today and we’ll see her next week and hope more women will overcome their shyness in that community and come join us. I feel honored to serve this way.
Rather than go into more detail there, because now it is a part of my life and I will be sharing stories from this adventure, I want to tell you about this interesting mom I met tonight. This was the first night of the play for Kevin’s middle school. Craig got lampooned into volunteering at the last possible moment to work in the boys dressing room (as babysitter). Kevin’s not in the play tonight but he came to hang out with his dad backstage. Nice. I worked selling roses to the parents who want to give their daughters flowers for a swell performance.( … no one bought one for their son…but I won’t hesitate embarrassing Kevin with a big bouquet…) The play rolled in front of us I had the privilege of learning the life story of the woman serving with me.
I always know if I ask someone with an accent where do you come from they are more than happy to describe their life before America. And I am more than happy to learn, understand, and appreciate their story of making it here in the promised land. This nice mom has one daughter and she is from Cambodia. She grew up in communist Cambodia, survived the killing fields and escaped with her parents when she was a young teenager. She was never allowed to go to school in Cambodia, but they put her in school here. She worked very hard to learn English and eventually get into college where she learned to do drafting for an engineer. Her family travelled with other families and one of them settled in France. Their son wanted to marry her so she sponsored him to come and eventually they got married and had one daughter, who is in the play with Kevin.
I explained how our church is setting up a safe house for the girls who are sold into sex slavery in Cambodia and that I want to go work in it next year, so she asked me if I was a missionary! Yes, I sort of am. Then she told me the best part of her story. When she arrived in America a missionary woman helped her family find a place to live, how to settle, and how to become American citizens. This missionary even made new skirts for her and bought her new shoes when school began so she wouldn’t feel left out from the other girls. She used to help tutor her with English and gave them food when money was a strain. To this day, 27 years later, she continues to keep a relationship with the missionary who made all the difference in her life as a young teen fresh off the boat, hoping for a life where she didn’t have to work in the rice fields to eat a meal, run from village to village to avoid killings, and be prevented from ever achieving more by a communist government.
When I heard her story it reminded me how hard it is to teach our children the value of our freedom as Americans when they’ve never known the hardship of living without freedom. She and I talked alot about parenting and how hard it is to go against the cultural spoiling of giving the children everything they could possibly dream of having without their learning a solid work ethic. It’s not easy but it is a worthy struggle.
I was so inspired by this missionary woman who invested herself into this cambodian refugee, taught her hope, gave her skills, and shared a pure love without pressure to leave her buddhist beliefs. This young girl felt valued and loved, not judged and it made all the difference in her life. I am so thankful I got to chat in the dark with her at the back of a middle school play about her story. I always feel great privilege meeting people who have struggled and suffered more than I’ll ever know to have the freedom I take for granted.