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From Grim to Glory: A Tale of My Grandmother

Across the continent to Asia, below China, north of the island Cat Ba in Vietnam, a family of eight sat on a boat barely ten feet long. My grandma May, then a little girl just my age, stirred from her sleep. Her legs were bruised as a hyena’s fur, there was no room to stretch, and no protection or shade. Their little boat was only enough for them to survive. No rooms. No furniture. No bathrooms, and definitely no electricity or gas. All the trash went into the sea. May’s brother was making a fire while her father was fishing. Next to her, there was a pile of nets that needed mending. After that was done, May would help her brothers gather firewood, chop trees, and rock the boat because there was no sail, or help her mother sharpen knives, or cook meals. After chores, my grandma would go with her friends, play jump rope, and skip rocks. At night, she would look at the stars and stare into the solemn mountains in the distance, wondering how the people on the other side of the world lived. 

At age seventeen, she was married. She had overheard some of the women talking about the land around the world, where almost all children learned to read and write for free in large buildings called schools. Their homes were rife with food, and they lived on land in houses with many rooms, each for a different purpose. They had plumbing systems and electricity. If they got sick, these people could go to a store to buy medicine, take it, and feel better. In some cases, they could go to hospitals and get treated by specialized doctors. Suddenly, gunshots were heard in the distance. Instinctively, she ducked into the protection of her boat. Everyone quickly started to move away from shore. She had known there was war all over Vietnam, but she never thought it would be so close. Knowing the circumspect of war, her parents consulted whether to stay, or to flee to Hong Kong. My grandma saw her father walk toward her brothers. Speaking in hushed whispers, they all helped tie clusters of boats together like birds flying in flocks, and sailed for many days to Hong Kong. Always facing hunger and war, my grandma’s community lived in constant fear. As they arrived, they settled in refugee camps.

Later, my first uncle was born in the refugee camp.  By God’s protection and providence, she was blessed to immigrate to America and came to know Christ as her Savior.  In fear of her children suffering from hunger and going astray, she provided incessantly for her four kids as a single parent, and prayed at their door every night for their safety and salvation. My grandma now advises people of this day and age to be grateful for what we have, to be studious and hardworking in everything, and to learn whatever we can, to the glory of God. My grandma strongly hopes and prays that you would believe in Jesus and submit to him, whatever the cost.

6 thoughts on “From Grim to Glory: A Tale of My Grandmother”

  1. The background is similar to my parents’. I would kinda be like your uncle in this story. I was one at the refugee camp. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Thank you for sharing your grandma’s story with us Charlotte. Is your grandma from your dad’s side? I am glad that God keeps your grandma safe and she knows Him. Yes, I agree with your grandma that we should be thankful with with we have and believe in Jesus in whatever it costs.

  3. What a beautiful story of God’s provision and love, leading your grandma and ultimately your family to knowing His salvation through Jesus. It makes me sad to think of all the hardship and difficulty that your family and others had to suffer through, but what peace and joy knowing that God uses all of those things for our good, that they were all temporary, and that we have a future free of suffering to look forward to with Him in eternity. Thank you for sharing!

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