Christmas 2002: It was the Sunday before Christmas day. I saw her in church. A little Asian girl in a pretty dress was sitting a few rows in front of me. She must have been about five or six years old, and from her features, I thought she could be Chinese. She kept turning around and looking at me. She seemed happy and at ease. I noticed her look over to a Caucasian lady who stood beside her and reach out to hold her hand. The girl was obviously not her biological daughter. I then realized that the girl was adopted. The lady kept looking over to the little girl, to make sure she was doing alright. Then she bent down and picked her up. As she held the girl in her arm, she turned and tenderly kissed her cheek and smiled at her. The girl smiled and put her arms around her mother’s neck, cuddled her face against her mother’s hair, and joyfully reveled in the affection she was receiving from her mom. The sight of such love and tenderness between two unrelated people from two different worlds touched me deeply. I could not stop looking at them. I admired the mother for having such genuine love and affection for a daughter who is not of her own blood, and I was happy for the little girl for having found such love.
Then suddenly, an overwhelming sadness came over me. I started thinking about all the little girls and boys that are not so lucky. I thought of all the girls and boys in orphanages who don’t have a mom or dad to love them, to kiss them good night, or show them affection. I thought of the girls and boys who are starving for attention, who grow up all alone in the world. Images of these children stuck in my mind. My heart felt heavy. Tears started coming to my eyes and I began to sob. In the middle of crying a phrase from St. John came to my mind: “This is love, not that we loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we ought to love one another”. That year I had been praying for God to let me know the true meaning of Christmas and to be able to live the spirit of Christmas. I knew then that I had been given the answer: Christmas is a time to celebrate the love of God, and a time to remember that we ought to love others.This grace that opened my heart to love and have compassion for the orphans, led me to realize that the ‘others’ that I was to love, are these abandoned children.
How Messengers of Love Got Started
By some divine arrangement, I met two Dominican nuns who came from Vietnam to raise funds for their orphanages. My friends and I helped them organize a fund raising event. I asked the nuns if I could sponsor two girls. They found two little girls for me to sponsor. Linh was three years old and Huyen was 1 ½ years old. I received their pictures and immediately fell in love. Linh always had a smile on her face and seemed to be a very happy child. But Huyen seemed to always have a sad face. She rarely smiled. Huyen was abandoned by her mother at birth and was raised by the nuns. Linh’s mother died when she was 10 days old and her grandmother brought her to the orphanage since she was too poor and couldn’t afford to raise her.
Because there were 25 kids in the orphanage, and I didn’t want anyone to feel left out, I sponsored three more kids and asked family and friends to sponsor the rest of the children. We started sending money monthly to buy milk, nutritional food, books, and other essentials. Besides these basic necessities, I made sure that we also addressed their emotional needs. I felt that through our gifts and personal attention, they would feel loved and maybe even special. I wrote them letters, and sent gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and Lunar New Year.
We were able to raise enough money to fix up the orphanage so the children could have better living quarters. We also provided a water filtering system for clean drinking water, a microwave, and rice cookers.
All the kids at the orphanage have blossomed into healthy and happy children. Huyen has grown up to become a happy beautiful child with a smile on her face. She is now 6 years old. Linh is now 8 years old. I travel to Vietnam as often as I can to visit the children. Needless to say, the bonds we have developed and the love that we share is priceless.
I started Messengers of Love with the intention of finding additional support to expand the number of orphans we can help, to give more children the feeling that someone cares for them. Thanks to the support and generosity of people, we have been able to add more orphanages to our support list each year. Our yearly Holiday gift giving program now includes Christmas and Lunar New Year (Tet) gifts, and the Children’s End of the School Year Holiday with a fun-filled day at the park and August Moon Festival with moon cakes and lanterns. We currently provide long term sponsorship for 3 orphanages, and hope to send all these children to good colleges someday. We were able to extend our Holiday gift giving programs to many other poor and disadvantaged people of Viet Nam including the handicapped, ex-lepers, and people of villages affected by the deadly typhoon and flood. Our gifts include food, soap, blankets and warm clothing. For the children, we add fun items such as toys and candy. We started our Holiday Gift Giving program in Christmas of 2003 and Tet (Lunar New Year) 2004, with gifts for 150 children in 3 orphanages and for 1000 poor people of Churu who live in the high mountains. In Christmas 2007 and Tet 2008, we were able to provide gifts to more than 3000 children including orphans from 10 orphanages and the poor children from 9 poor villages, and over 2500 adults including the poor, handicapped and ex-lepers.
We also added many building and development programs to improve the quality of life of the poor. These programs include Home Building for the Homeless, School and Orphanage Remodeling, Scholarships for a Poor Student, and Medical and Health Services programs. We were able to build 5 new homes for ex-lepers and poor families and are currently building 5 more. We remodeled 3 schools in Hue, built 3 dining halls for three rural schools and provided full scholarships for 28 poor students. We also helped dig six wells for the poor villages of Gailai, provided 2 clean water systems in the villages close to Thua Thien, bought yearly school uniforms for 300 children of Gailai of Pleiku and Suoi Thong of Da Lat, provided one acre of cashew trees to the poor village near Kontum. We recently sponsored 2 children to come to the USA for medical surgery.
Through our sharing and caring, we bring happiness and peace to ourselves and at the same time, make a difference in the lives of others. We can only do this through the support of our sponsors, and through volunteers who give their time and effort to support the cause. MoL’s purpose is to bring Love and Happiness to many, including those surrounding us and those far away. Please take a few moments to view our website and learn more about us, our activities and how to get involved. We dream that someday, with God’s help, there will be no more orphans left unloved. We hope that you will help us fulfill that dream. Together, we can be Messengers of Love to the world and help build the Kingdom of God on earth.
Thank you and God bless,
MoL Founder and Executive Director
About Messengers of Love_English
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