By Emily Haney
Thai's Story [Age 19, Home #5]
I have a few memories of my life. My first is of standing over my father’s freshly dug grave and watching my mom cry. I did not understand that what had happened would forever change my life. My second memory is hearing my mom cry in the night. A man had moved into our house and I heard him say, "He has to go." The next day, my mom packed my bag and we took a bus to my grandfather’s home. I remember looking out the door as the bus rode away and she grew smaller and smaller in the distance. I could tell something was not right. She never told me "good-bye." My grandfather was a kind man but was too sick to care for me.
I remember trying to cook him food. I was only 7 years old and was quickly becoming his caregiver. Then one day a nice woman came to see me. We talked and she gave me some warm rice. It was so good to have something warm in my stomach. She and my grandfather talked a long time and I kept hearing my name. I loved my grandfather and knew he loved me.
The next day, I saw tears in my grandfather’s eyes. He was so sad. He held me in his arms and told me that I was going to live with the nice lady who had come to visit me the day before. I wanted to run away and hide where no one could find me.
The nice lady did come and I was not happy to go with her. It was a very sad day. When I got to her home, a few others boys were there too. She and her husband told me these were my new brothers and they would help me. And they did.
It was fun playing with them. I had a nice bed to sleep in and even got to go to school. But I missed my grandfather. In a few weeks, I traveled with the nice lady, who was now my HOL mother, and once again I stood over a grave of someone I loved. My grandfather had died.
My new mom and dad were so kind to me. I could tell they really loved my brothers and me. They helped me with my schoolwork, my new dad took me fishing, and my new mom fed me good food. Every Sunday we went to church together. I now understand God has a good plan for me and loves me so much.
I remember a very special day in my home. It was in the summer of 2006. My parents gathered all of us boys together and told us they had some special letters for each one of us. One by one, we each opened the letters. Mine had my name on it. It started, "Dear Thai, We are so glad we get to be part of your life... Love, Bob and Toni Broyles."
That letter changed my life. I have been getting a letter from them every year. I have every letter they wrote to me and read them over and over. I now call Bob and Toni my US mom and dad.
I remember another letter I got from Mom and Dad Broyles. It was three years later. It started out; "Dear Thai, Your US mom and dad are finally going to get to meet you face to face. We are coming to Vietnam this summer!" WOW!!! I could hardly believe what I read. In 4 months I would get to meet my US parents!!!
The day finally came to meet them. I was so excited! I was with my brothers at our HOL summer camp. There were several Americans there. I kept looking for Mom and Dad Broyles. I thought I spotted my mom. Dad was not with her at that moment. Then I knew it was her! She saw me and before I knew it, she was hugging me and crying. We spent so much time together that week. I knew they both loved me.
Over the years they have been so special to me. They encourage me in school and my love of music and have helped me love the Lord. They tell me about their family, about riding bikes together, and the snow. I really love them.
We now are friends on Facebook. This fall, I received a message from them. They had been to the HOL "Dream with Me" banquet and seen my dream written on a card at their table. They did not know this, but I had given up on my dream. I had always wanted to be an architect but it was a difficult major at the university and I did not think I could do it. After they came home from the banquet, they sent me this message. "Hi Thai, Dad and I went to the Homes of Love Banquet tonight. It was really great. A lot of people were there to hear about our great homes in your country. Everyone who is in a home had their dream written out and put on the tables. It was so fun to read those dreams. Yours said you dream of being an architect. How is that dream coming? What do you have to do to make it happen? I believe in you so much...you can accomplish this dream. Love you, Mom" They believed in me but I needed to believe in myself. After their message to me, I started to pray about this. I knew I should not give up on my dream. I asked for permission to take some time off to study harder for the exam that would allow me to go to the University of Architecture.
There are still times I think I cannot do this but I remember that others think I can. And hopefully someday I will make my parents so proud of me when I become an architect. Maybe they can even come to my graduation.
The Broyles have truly embodied the spirit of the Extended Family Partnership program, inviting Thai into their family and their hearts and committing to a relationship with him that is built on prayer, encouragement, and love. Their support of Thai has helped him not only to dream but also to persevere in his dreams. Would you be willing to build a relationship with an HOL child and see if you too can encourage them to go after their dreams?