For a few years here in our little neck of the woods we enjoyed a small family full of the most adorable children, a talented man, and one of the most dedicated mothers I have ever met. The dad played the piano in our church pretty much for every occasion as he was one of the few who could play at all. I remember one of the first times I met his wife. We were at an "Enrichment Activity" ( a church women's only activity, usually some learning, always fun and always some kind of food involved!) This particular night we were playing games. I can't really remember the exact game but Van was supposed to know-do- or something with a hippopotamus. The trouble was that Van was brand new to the United States, fresh from Vietnam and spoke only the very basics of English. Most of the time she would just shyly smile and nod and hope she didn't look to out of place. We all took turns trying to help her understand what a hippopotamus was and I finally just drew one on the paper table cloth. She took one look and repeated "hippopotamus" only in Vietnamese, with a huge smile.
Over the few years we all watched Van as she taught herself and her children English. She would ask for words from time to time, but her concern was that her children would be left behind educationally, so she not only taught them to speak English, but to read it as well. Her oldest little girl blew us all away when as a Sunbeam (Sunday school class for three years old) she was not only able to speak so maturely, but read from the King James version of the bible, old English style - Thee, Thou, and such, and understands what she read well enough to explain what she had read.
A few more years and a few more children- and all three of them were just as bright, polite, and well mannered. Van was it and a bag of chips in the mommy department. Always quiet and shy, always soft and loving.
It broke all of us apart when they announced their house was up for sale in anticipation of a move to Michigan. Ack! What would we do without the man who would arrange all of our music and play whatever we needed? What would we do without a sweet mother and her three little ones? Carry on.
I have waited for them to settle in before sending them a small house warming (which from the weather in Michigan nowadays might better have been an electric blanket). I found a piece of tin and recycled it with the word "love" in block letters, and the words "Love is spoken here" in Vietnamese. I hope they can find a place for it in their new home, the message sure reminds me of them all.
(apologies to anyone from Vietnam if I have missed spelled the above, sources tell me it is correct, but I may have goofed it)
Click on the photo to enlarge and see more detail.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Posted by S'mee at 12:04 PM