Monday, October 29, 2012

Sharing an Everyday Miracle...

Hello all! I'm Felicity, one of the newbies here and this is my first post at SEM - so please forgive me if my nerves are the star of my little contribution. I’d like to share with you a simple miracle that I take for granted everyday until I stop to think about it. The miracle that I live with is acceptance, and this is how my story goes…

I come from an Anglo Saxon background with Australian parents and grandparents – so as you can imagine I am particularly fair. As a child I grew up in Springvale, a south eastern suburb of Melbourne during the late 1970’s and early ‘80s - one of the original ethnic melting pots of Melbourne. This is my Grade Prep photo, taken in 1979. I am in the front row seated 2nd from the right, with my home haircut and pretty dress that Mum sewed for me.


In this class of 31 children I can distinctly remember having friends who came from Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Israel, Finland, Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and Yugoslavia (as it was known then), and they are the nations that come to mind over 30 years later, there may have been more. We shared our cultures, stories, our food and languages. This was our normal.

My family embraced this multiculturalism that my brother Adam and I lived amongst. By the time we were teenagers Adam had a friend, Cahn, whom he used to play basketball with every weekend. Adam has learning difficulties and special needs. Cahn accepted him as his friend. Adam never noticed that Cahn was Vietnamese. He accepted him as his friend. Mum and Dad did not bat an eyelid when Adam brought Cahn home for lunch one weekend, and then the next weekend, then much more frequently to dinner during the week until eventually he kind of lived at our house. My parents ‘adopted’ Cahn, since he was living in the care of the Wesley Mission, but what he really needed was a family.

Cahn had come to Australia on a rickety boat from Vietnam as a refugee, escaping the Viet Cong. He told us his harrowing and sorrowful story, leaving his parents and siblings behind and travelling here with his Auntie posing as his mother. Many fellow Vietnamese met their death on this dangerous journey; their lives being taken by illness, sharks and even pirates. As a child he lived at Enterprise, a migrant facility in Springvale to house the many hundreds of refugees that fled persecution. His Auntie had since married and there was no room for him in their new family. But we had plenty of room for him in ours.

Cahn went on to marry his High school sweetheart Olivia (from an Italian background) and they have a beautiful daughter Angelica. He runs a successful bakery and is happy. He calls me his sister, Adam his brother and my parents Mum and Dad.


It was not so long ago that my kids were looking at some photos and asked me why Angelica looked different. I wasn’t sure what they meant at first, perhaps that she was older now than when the photos were taken? When I questioned them they replied, “No Mum, why does she look a bit Chinese?” Then it hit me! Oh the joy! My children were seeing Angelica through Adam’s eyes. They did not see color or race. They saw another child, a little girl, their cousin - and that was all. When I explained how Angelica came to look different they were nonchalant and not at all interested. Who cares? I heard them say, she’s just our cousin…

I am just so proud of my children’s acceptance of others – seeing people for who they are, not the color of their skin, or their country of origin, their religious beliefs, disabilities or anything else. In a world that is often ignorant, angry and racist I am proud that my children look first with their heart, then with their eyes. This is the little miracle I would like to share with you, acceptance of people as they are, without judgement or fear. Imagine how much more wonderful our world could be if we were all just a little more tolerant, and looked at the world with fresh, innocent eyes.

Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Wesley Mission has a real mission – to minister to a community with real needs.
Their community includes the vulnerable and marginalised. It includes the lonely, hurt and fragile, the homeless, mentally ill, aged, disabled, unemployed. It includes the spiritually lost.

7 comments:

Ali said...

That's a gorgeous story - children are so accepting until they learn otherwise. I pray that my kids are as open as yours as they grow up.

Svetlana Austin said...

thank you, Felicity for this beautiful post! it is so wonderful that all of us are so different and together we make each other's lives more colorful. our church had a rainbow lunch yesterday after the Sunday service (unfortunately I missed it)but I can imagine all the fun and all the different foods they had to enjoy! I am very glad that my kids grow up surrounded by many very diverse people!

Susan said...

Thanks for sharing - beautiful story. Your page is so cute too.

Cara G said...

What a beautiful story Felicity...I love the way (most) kids are so accepting...if only the rest of the world was. Thank you so much for sharing this sweet part of your life with us!

Marjolaine said...

Your story is very touching and beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it! And for the record, no need to be nervous, you did great!

Lisa H said...

What a wonderful story Felicity! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

CG said...

Oh, that brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful.