You see this grainy picture to the right? It’s a picture taken of a hospital in Manila, Philippines, in the late 70’s, and this is where I was born.
That last statement is nothing short of a miracle. Because here are the events that had to occur for me to have been born in a hospital in Manila, Philippines:
• My parents would have to have the willingness to leave their home country of Vietnam.
• My parents would have to escape Communist Vietnam unnoticed.
• My parents had to assume the consequences of being arrested and thrown in a concentration camp if caught.
• My parents had to do so with four children under ten in tow.
• My parents would need to know how to navigate a shrimping boat to get to the Philippines versus ending up adrift in the ocean.
• My father would have to be willing to take the fishing boat to escape, knowing that he would be taking away his partner’s livelihood.
• My parents would have to be willing to leave without saying goodbye to their family as to go unnoticed.
• My parents had to be willing to accept the fact that they may never see their families ever again.
• My parents had to plan to take enough food to support a family of six for nine days it would take to reach the Philippines.
• My parents would have to make the tough decision of what to leave behind as not to overburden the shrimping boat.
• The shrimping boat had to be in good enough physical and mental condition to make the journey.
• My parents had to make the decision to throw overboard all the food and other provisions when a hole was discovered in the boat.
• The Coast Guard would have had to be in just the right place on day eight of the journey to rescue the family from a shrimping boat that was sinking.
• A refugee camp would have needed to be in existence in the Philippines to welcome and care for a family of six.
• A visiting pastor from the United States had to be in the right place to meet my father in the refugee camp to share the Gospel.
• A church in Houston, TX, would have to be willing to sponsor an entire family of Vietnamese refugees to the United States with proper documentation and fees.
• My mother had to go into early labor getting on the plane to the United States.
• The airline would have to make the decision to ask my family to get off the plane.
• Someone would have to show kindness and take my mother to a hospital in Manila, Philippines.
And those are the ones I can think of right now. I don’t take my life for granted. My mother buried a daughter, my sister, who died at six months of age in Vietnam due to an unknown illness. And when I say my mother buried her daughter, I mean my mother physically dug a hole in the backyard of her home in rural Vietnam, laid her daughter in the ground and buried her alone and without a headstone.
My birth in a hospital in the capital city of the Philippines three years later is a miracle. So I cannot waste this life that I have been given in any way. I only found the picture this week as I added a new item to my bucket list:
“Deliver shoebox gifts with Samaritan’s Purse through Operation Christmas Child to children in the Philippines.”
What a powerful experience it would be to go and not only give a gift to a child, but to return to the place where I was given the gift of entering this world in a safe and healthy environment.
People will often share with me a tough situation that they are experiencing at work or in their personal lives and end with “I don’t have a choice.” What I hear is “Nhung, I do have a choice, but the repercussions of those choices are ones I am not willing to consider. The price is too high to me personally or to those I care about so I am going to go the powerless route and just say I don’t have a choice.”
I’ve been there, too, both in my personal and professional life. But feeling powerless sucks the life out of me. I am going to keep this grainy picture of the hospital close by because it represents hope and the very best of what happens when people choose NOT to remain powerless.