My life story is not a typical one. I was born in a small village in Vietnam, where I lived with my parents and four siblings. We were poor, but happy. We had a simple life, working on the farm, going to school, and playing with our friends. I loved learning new things and dreamed of becoming a teacher someday.
When I was 12 years old, everything changed. My father was arrested by the government for being a part of a resistance movement. He was tortured and killed in prison. My mother was devastated and became depressed. She could not take care of us anymore. My older brother decided to join the same movement as my father, hoping to avenge his death. He left us without saying goodbye. I never saw him again.
I had to take care of my younger siblings and the farm. I had to drop out of school and work hard to make ends meet. I had no time for fun or dreams. I felt angry, sad, and hopeless. I wondered why life was so unfair and cruel.
One day, I met a man who changed my life. He was a missionary from America, who came to our village to spread the gospel. He saw me working on the field and approached me. He asked me about my life and listened to my story. He told me about Jesus and his love for me. He gave me a Bible and invited me to his church. He became my friend and mentor.
He helped me find hope and meaning in my life. He encouraged me to go back to school and pursue my education. He supported me financially and emotionally. He taught me English and computer skills. He introduced me to his family and friends. He showed me a different world and a different way of living.
He also helped me forgive and heal. He helped me understand that my father and brother were not evil, but misguided. He helped me see that the government was not my enemy, but my fellow human beings. He helped me realize that I was not a victim, but a survivor. He helped me accept and love myself and others.
He inspired me to follow my dreams and make a difference. He helped me apply for a scholarship to study in America. He helped me prepare for the exams and the interviews. He helped me pack my bags and say goodbye to my family and friends. He helped me board the plane and start a new journey.
That was 10 years ago. Today, I am a teacher in a high school in New York. I teach math and science to students from different backgrounds and cultures. I love my job and my students. I also volunteer at a local church and a nonprofit organization that helps refugees and immigrants. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful daughter. I have a happy and fulfilling life.
But I never forget where I came from and what I went through. I never forget the man who saved me and shaped me. He is still my friend and mentor. He is still my hero. He is my life story.