Narrow Escape of a Sure Death in Wars

Author: Ancy Lee
Translator: Pius Lee

I was born in Vietnam with five siblings. I am a second generation immigrant. Therefore we were a busy household of eight. We lived in ChoLớn, South Vietnam. It is a city of Chinese immigrants. During the 60’s and early 70’s Vietnam had experienced many big and small fierce civil battles between the North and the South. The North was under a communistic regime and the South a capitalistic regime. The geographical divide between the two fractions was the Hue Province. Hue is situated 955 km from Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon), the capital of the southern fraction. Many residents fled the civil wars, and there was no exception for the Chinese immigrants there.

The Relentless Wars

My father (dad) often said that throughout his life he fled wars multiple times. Previously in China, he fled the Sino-Japanese War and was nearly killed when he escaped from a Japanese invasion force’s outpost. The Chinese people suffered deeply. Soon after the subsidence of the WWII tumult, dad emigrated to Vietnam for a better life. Nonetheless, dad was confronted with the tumults of the Vietnamese civil war.

In the late 60’s I was barely a toddler and had vague memories. I recollected one time that it seemed the whole family participated in a hide-and-seek game, everybody hid underneath a large bed in one of the bedrooms. That large bed had a large hanging mosquito net. Later, I learned that it was a narrow escape from death as the opposing armies of the fractions exchanged fierce gun battles in front of our home and the mosquito net might be the most effective in averting gun bullets. Suddenly, dad outcried: “Ouch! Tough luck, I’ve gotten hit!” We all thought the same. We were frightened and sweated profusely. Fortunately, it was a false alarm. We were cramped so long underneath a tight space that dad felt numb due to constricted circulations. Dad’s numbed body collided with furniture causing sharp pain and thought that he was hit.

Upstairs we had two renter families. There were also four children. One man stood up to stretch and he was immediately hit by a stray bullet. He felt a burning sensation in his buttock. A bullet bored through a wallet in his hip pocket without harming him. What a narrow escape it was!

The Unwavering Protection of our Heavenly Father

Dad had a similar miraculous escape during one of his fruit hawker errands. Dad was pushing his fruit cart over an open bridge. The split second when dad reached the crown of the bridge, bullets suddenly flew all over the bridge. Dad dodged himself behind his fruit cart. Dad merged out from his cart when the gun rattles had long stopped. He found a large scatter of bullet shells around him. In the 2023 January issue, I mentioned that grandma tried desperately to abort dad when she found out dad was conceived in her womb. Subsequently, dad escaped narrowly from a Japanese invasion outpost. Now dad escaped unscathed in a Vietcong attack. Had not the invisible hands of the Protector God cared for dad, I would have long ago stopped this story-telling series. The Heavenly Father who disdains not caring for a sparrow, would He not care for a person whose life is so much more valuable in His eyes? Jesus’ words were recorded in the Bible: “If it is not permitted by my Father, not a sparrow will fall onto the ground” — “even your hair has been counted; therefore take heart and not be afraid. You are worth much more than many sparrows” — paraphrased from Matt 10:29-31.

My parents told me later that the Vietcong-soldiers had sneaked into Saigon dressed as civilians multiple times to smuggle weapons and secretly built enclaves to subvert the South Vietnam and American militaries. That was one of their large campaigns. The Vietcong’s strategy failed miserably that time. However, many residents lost their lives.

Eating Contest against Rats over Rice Noodles

During the civil war, the government often enforced curfews. Sometimes the curfew lasted more than three days. Militarized soldiers and policemen strictly patrolled all the main roads. Violators were severely punished. The people would empty out all the food selves of the grocery stores when they heard curfew forecasts. With the shopping frenzy prices shot through the roof for soya sauce, rice, salt, sugar and vinegar even ballooned ten times the ordinary prices. For some items they were just flat out sold-out. Our home had once stocked up a hundred kilograms of rice, thirty-forty kilograms of rice noodle, more than ten kilograms of cooking-oil and salt.

We discovered that there were teeth marking and dried feces of rats in the rice-noodle paper bags. Later we decided to consume the rice noodles first. We raced against the rats for the stable. My younger siblings and I had to sieve through the noodles to pick out the rat feces. To our further dismay at times there were tiny worms in the rice bags too — we also had to pick them out. Jesus said it succinctly in the Bible: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt,…, But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt.” (Matt 6:19-20)

Rat Terminator Champion Mimi

Fortunately in our home we owned a smart cat called Mimi. She had a white under-hue fur, dotted with yellow and black stripes. Mimi was an expert rat terminator. Mimi was also a prolific mother. Mimi joined our rat eradication SWAT team. Mimi was undoubtedly the champion. She volunteered to provide coverage for our immediate neighbors. Our neighbors praised Mimi many times for her superb skill, saying that with Mimi on patrol they stopped being intimidated by rats. Once Mimi caught five rats in one night, killed them and laid their unmarred corpses in columns in a doorway conspicuous place as if it were a trophy display. Mimi’s ostentatious gesture was a high cry for superiority and we quietly accepted defeat.

Author: Mrs. Thuyen-Anh (Ancy) Lee was born in Vietnam. She immigrated and was educated in Sweden as a teenager. Her profession was social work until she married Pius in 1994. The couple responded to the calling to be ministers and relocated to NY in 2023.

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