She came to us as a language tutor for our children, a friend of a friend of a friend. She was quiet and polite, gentle without that underlying anger that is so common amongst our friends here. She was a new Christian, and Jesus shone straight through those brown eyes of hers. She started in the few months between my fifth and sixth pregnancy, the ever-so-brief respite from what I later learned was antenatal depression. When the depression came again, she was there blessing us and never once judging me. She became our helper full-time and kept our home from complete chaos. Her very presence brought peace to my heart. Over the months she became a confidant, friend, and Christian encouragement. To this day her faith is an inspiration to me.
But Theavy gave our family a gift even greater than that daily much-needed cleaning: she taught my children to love Cambodians. Hurt by years of difficult cultural remarks and actions* on the part of our neighbors, my children wanted nothing to do with Cambodians. With Theavy's gentle, persistent and impartial love, each of my children learned to love and trust the people we serve.
When we moved to the village, we shed many tears over leaving Theavy. She had become a part of our family, and we will always think of her as such. We carry her love in our hearts, and it spills out of my children to our new neighbors, sprouting friendships across cultures. When God showed a young Khmer woman from the beaches of Cambodia His love, I am sure she never dreamed she would transform the lives of an American family with six kids. But He did.
And now, because He loved her and she loved us, our new helper loves Him, too.
Theavy, we thank you once again in light of our new helper's desire to follow Jesus. We were able to fall in love with her so easily because you taught us that helpers were worth loving like family, and family she now truly is.
*Our children were hit with bamboo sticks, constantly compared to each other ("Your sister is so much (insert adjective like prettier, smarter, etc.) than you"), grabbed and run away, hit and bruised on their backs at very young ages because they were "loved so much," and some even had to be protected from public genital touching. Healing from these incidents and trusting Khmer neighbors was nothing short of a miracle, and we know God sent Theavy to us for that purpose.