18 Jun Texas Vietnam Veteran Gives and Receives Love from Vietnam’s Most Vulnerable Children.
We are thankful for Paul L. Black, a US Marine who joined us on our Ambassador Tour last Christmas to the Center of Hope in Vietnam. We got the chance to sit with him, and hear about his amazing story of why he was compelled to join us on this trip, his experiences and his journey of healing.
In 1971, Paul was a combat Marine in Vietnam. After witnessing the most traumatic events and coming close to losing his own life, he was able to return home to the US. For years, Paul was unable to talk about his experiences because the memories were too painful. As the decades went by, he had developed a burning desire to return to Vietnam to serve and show love to the citizens there. He felt that this would be a great opportunity for him to not only give back, but to also receive love and healing.
Paul shared this desire with his children, Jeremy and Brooke. This became a regular family discussion, however, other priorities forced them to place this dream on the shelf.
Last year, Paul’s daughter, Brooke heard about the opportunity to visit a children’s home in Vietnam, the Center of Hope. This trip was hosted by Serving Orphans Worldwide, and was designed to invite those who may not be involved with SOW to learn more about how they can get involved in orphan care, and to assist with identifying needs and potential sustainability investments.
Brooke quickly responded to the opportunity, and contacted Paul and her brother, Jeremy. They completed the forms within the week and began planning this trip that meant so much to their father.
“It was a strange feeling at first, visiting this country that was ravaged by war,” Paul said. “It looked so different from what I remember.”
As the van pulled up along the dirt road through a small village, Paul and his family arrived at the Center of Hope Children’s Home.
“We were greeted by over a hundred children,” Paul remembers. “What surprised me the most was they had so much joy, despite their circumstances.”
Children at the Center of Hope are primarily from the H’mong Tribe. Some were found wondering in the jungle alone and others were referred by pastors, and local law enforcement. The staff at Center of Hope work with these children to teach them Vietnamese so they can be enrolled in school and catch up with their peers.
Over several days, the team got to meet a local missionary nurse who would come to Center of Hope every month to administer medicine. Most of the cases were painful skin infections, caused by bathing in contaminated water. Through in-depth discussions with the nurse and staff, the SOW team identified that if the campus had a deeper water well, this would significantly improve the quality of life for the children and prevent further skin issues.
“It wasn’t long after we returned that a very generous sponsor donated the funds to dig the well.” Paul said. “It was awesome to be a part of that process and see that a huge need was met for these children.
For Paul, Vietnam had changed significantly from the war-torn Vietnam he remembered.
“This visit was not only a step closer toward his healing journey, his gentle nature was a comfort and blessing to the children” said Susan, communications coordinator for SOW. “His knack for identifying needs and assessing risks obviously comes from his many years of working in law enforcement. It helped the team tremendously on this trip.”
“After I left, I had a new found vision of Vietnam today, and I believe the next time I go, I won’t be as nervous.” Paul said with a smile. “It was awesome, and I am excited to be involved with such as great ministry like Serving Orphans Worldwide.”