We had a guest speaker at church this morning. She was originally from Vietnam, and she was sharing her experiences about growing up in a poor large family in that country, as the only daughter in a society that she says did not particularly value women.
A significant part of her message was contrasting how things are in America with how things were in Vietnam. Here in America, many people have automobiles. In Vietnam, they are a luxury. She also said that the clothes she was wearing would be a luxury in Vietnam. In America, she works in a building that has an air-conditioner for hot days and a heater for cold days. In Vietnam, at age 11, she worked in the rice fields for twelve hours each day, even when the days were really hot. She also told us that the rice fields in Vietnam are quite different from the farms in America. In America, we have public schools. In Vietnam, people need money to go to school. That somewhat surprised me: wouldn’t one expect a Communist country to be more equal than that? These contrasts were helpful because they helped me to envision her life, a bit better.
She was also sharing with us how she became a Christian. Essentially, her mom was a bartender, an American serviceman witnessed to her, and she in turn shared Christ with her kids. The speaker said that she did not have a Bible as a child, so her understanding of Christ was limited. She knew that Christ was a baby at one point and had a mother, and she would share her problems with Christ, especially after working long hours in a rice field. Her mother also told her stories about God’s protection. For example, the speaker was born in 1976. The Vietnam War had ended, and yet there was still strife. A hot piece of glass pierced her mom’s stomach, and the mom feared that she had lost her baby. But she didn’t.
The speaker also talked about her father. She was afraid when her father drank because he could be abusive, or she’d have to clean up his vomit. To this day, she told us, she cannot stand the smell of alcohol.
I am glad that the elder who conducted the service invited the speaker for this morning’s service. They know each other from work. It is important for me to learn more about what other people have gone through.