From a jungle prison to Isleworth

One day, about four years ago, our daughter, Hokulani said she wanted to go to church. Her class had been studying Christianity. I (My, a nominal Buddhist) knew that a lady whose hair she cuts was a Christian, so I went along to Hilllsong, in Central London. We were drawn by everyone’s warmth and kindness.

We are from Vietnam. Masahiro describes what happened when he was 10. With my mother and brother, we tried to escape the country. I was put in prison out in the jungle, and every time I ate I vomited. I got very skinny.

One night I had a dream. I saw the statue of Mary outside my school come to life. She said to me, ‘you are going to leave today’. I told my mother whose reaction was, ‘No way’. By 4.00pm when everyone went home, nothing had happened. Then about 10 minutes later, someone called and said, ‘You’re going home.’ So we did. With my uncle and brother, we went to Malaysia, then to Japan for 17 years, before coming to England.

My left Vietnam when she was 12. Her father was one of the ‘boat people’, taking a small fishing boat. With only one packet of rice, they soon ran out of fuel. Fearing the worst, they were waiting to die. Then they saw a big fishing boat and so my father swam for an hour to it. He was taken to Hong Kong and after four years, the rest of the family could join him, and we went to live in Peckham.

We have many other stories, including one when My’s uncle was thrown overboard. He does not remember how, but he found himself on a beach. He may have been carried by a large fish…

We have lived eight years in Isleworth. We want to set up a Vietnamese restaurant. Now that Masahiro doesn’t work on Sunday, we all started to come to St John’s: ‘the family now feels complete’. With Tomoki (2) we will get baptised on 28th April. Hokalani isn’t sure yet.