Recently, I met a new neighbor – a beautiful young lady from Vietnam. Anh is a sixteen year old student whose family has made large sacrifices to send her to the United States. To this faith-filled family, a Catholic education for their daughter was paramount, so they sent her to live with a host family here. I thoroughly enjoyed getting acquainted with Anh. It was difficult to communicate, because her English is still very sketchy. Her warm, full smile would certainly light up any room! She played with the neighborhood children and cuddled them in her arms. Smiles and play seem to be a universally understood language. The kids were delighted!
When we met, Anh had just baked her first cupcakes ever! She saw the box on the shelves of the grocery store and was attracted by the chocolate frosting and sprinkles. At her home in Vietnam, her family had a rudimentary cooktop – no oven. Cupcakes – a simple pleasure I have apparently taken for granted! When I asked Anh her age, her reply was strikingly beautiful! She first replied, “Sixteen.” Then she quickly corrected herself, “Seventeen.” I thought that she was trying to tell me that she was going to have her seventeenth birthday soon. Anh’s host parent explained to me that in her country, they count your age beginning at conception! Her answer went straight to my heart – the total respect and appreciation for God’s gift of life! It’s exactly what our country is missing!
“I love it!” I announced. My friend Nila said, ” You do realize that if you counted your age from conception, you’d be a whole year older.” Hmmpf! You’re right! Still…beautiful! Praise be to God, the Creator and Giver of all life!
“Before I formed You in the Womb, I knew You. Before you were born I consecrated you. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5