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3. Wandering in the Wilderness

Chapter 3

Wandering In The Wilderness
徘徊旷野

From the Hong Kong refugee camp soaring up into the sky and flying towards Canada
从香港的难民营一飞冲天前往加拿大

The Hong Kong police put us in an old military camp, the so-called “closed refugee camp” which was guarded by policemen as if it were a prison, since we were not allowed to go out. Living in the “closed refugee camp” were many refugees who had arrived earlier than we. They told us that after staying here for some time, refugees would be transferred to the “open camp” where they would finally be free to go out. Therefore we must never do anything that may annoy the police, and must obey their regul­at­ions if we wish to be transferred. The people from our two boats were put in different rooms. At day time, all the refugees would come to the public square to chat. Everyone’s heart was heavy because we didn’t know what the future held for us.

香港的警察把我们送往一个旧军营,那是一个所谓“封闭难民营”。那里有警察看守着,我们不能出外,就像个监牢一般。在那个“封闭难民营”里有很多比我们先到达的越南难民。他们说在这里住一段时间后,就会转到所谓“开放营”,那时就可以自由出外了。所以千万不要惹怒那些警察,要守规矩,那么就可以早点转营。我们两艘船的人分住在不同的房间里,白天我们出来在营地的广场上谈话,大家心里既沉闷又惧怕,不知前途如何。

After staying in the closed refugee camp for around two months, in May 1979 we were transferred to the “open refugee camp” on Lai Chi Kok Road, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon. The Hong Kong government issued a “refugee card” to each of us. It was our temporary ID card. The United Nations would give every recognized refugee a weekly sum of money as living allowance, and the Hong Kong government allowed us to get a job to earn extra money.

我们在“封闭难民营”里住了两个多月后,在1979年5月终于获得转往九龙深水埗荔枝角道的“开放营”。香港政府发给我们每人一张“难民证”,那就是我们在香港期间的临时身份证。联合国每周发给我们每人一笔钱作为生活费,香港政府也准许我们去找工作挣钱。

At that time many foreign electronics companies set up factories in Hong Kong. Because there were so many factories, they couldn’t hire enough workers. Meanwhile, the refugees were coming to Hong Kong one group after another, just at the right time to fill the job vacancies. These electronics companies even visited the refugee camp to recruit workers. After only two or three days, I got a job at the Philips electronics company as an assembly line worker. I worked five and half days a week and was paid thirty-two Hong Kong dollars a day. Every morning the company would send ten big buses to the refugee camp to pick us up and send us to work. We would have our lunch at the company cafeteria, and after work the bus would take us back to the refugee camp. Life was busy but simple. After going through four years of suffering and hardship, I felt that this life was so wonderful!

那时候很多外国的电子公司纷纷在香港设立工厂,因为工厂太多,甚至请不到足够的工人来工作。当时一批又一批的难民来到,正好填满那些空虚的工作岗位。那些电子公司甚至派人员到难民营来聘请工人。两、三天后,我就在 “Philips” 电子公司找到一份电子装配员的工作,每周工作五天半,每天工资三十二块港币。早上公司派十辆大巴士(公车)到难民营来接我们去上班,午饭在工厂里吃,下班后又送我们回难民营,生活简单而忙碌。我在饱经四年的忧患之后,这样的生活对我来说是太美好了!

Shortly after we had arrived at the open refugee camp, the United Nations gave each of us an applica­tion form. We were to specify which countries we were applying to for residence, and were allowed to name three countries. I chose the United States, Canada, and Australia, all of which are English-speaking countries. When I was in Vietnam, I studied at a Vietnamese school, so my first foreign language was French, and my second was English. I knew very little English; most of my knowledge of English came from self study. I studied English grammar and English vocabulary, but my listening comprehension and speaking ability were almost non-existent. On top of that, I didn’t have any relatives or friends in the United States, Canada, or Australia, so I feared that these three countries may reject my application. In that case, I would have to go through another round of application and start afresh, queuing behind the others. I didn’t know how long I will have to wait before I could be granted residence that would allow me to rebuild my future.

我们到达“开放营”后不久,联合国就派给我们一张申请表,让我们填写自己的意愿要去哪个国家定居,我们可以选择三个国家。我选择了美国、加拿大和澳大利亚,全都是英语国家。我在越南时读的是越文学校,我的第一外语是法文,英文只是我的第二外语。我只懂一点点英文,而且大部分还是我自学的,我自学语法和单词,但听力和对话是完全不行。再加上我没有亲戚和朋友在美国、加拿大和澳大利亚等地,我恐怕这三个国家都不愿意收容我。如果他们不愿意收容我的话,我就要重新填写申请表格,重新排队等候。所以当时我也不知道要等多久才可以找到定居的国家,好让我重建我的前途。

But Yahweh, the only true God, has abundant grace and compassion. The more lowly a person, the greater is God’s care and concern for him or her. Two or three weeks after I had submitted my application, I came back from work one day, and as usual went to the notice board to look for any new announcements. There I saw my name. The Canadian government wanted to interview me on a specific day the following week. Many of those who travelled on the boat with me were wealthier than I, and had better qualifications, yet so far none had received a notice of interview. Aunt Q had several children in the United States who were sponsoring her, yet she still hadn’t had an interview. It had never occurred to me that a nobody like me would be the first to have an interview!

真神雅伟有丰盛的怜悯慈爱,越卑微的人,祂就越加关心照顾。我递上申请表格后,过了两、三周,一天我下班回来,就去难民营的告示板看看有没有新的通告。忽然我看到我的名字在告示板上,原来是加拿大政府要找我去面试了,面试的日期是下周!那些与我同船的人当中,比我富有、条件比我好的人多得很,他们还没接到面试的通知。 Q姨有儿女在美国担保她,她还没去面试。万万想不到我这么卑微的人却是第一个得到面试的机会!

The countries which were accepting refugees had set up offices in the refugee camp. On the day of the interview, early in the morning, I waited at the Canadian government office. All the notices on the wall were in English. I could read some of them but I couldn’t understand the English spoken by the staff. My heart was very nervous, wondering how I could ever pass the interview.

当时那些愿意收容难民的国家都在难民营里设立了办公室。到了面试那天,我一大清早就到加拿大的办公室里等候。墙上的告示全是英文,我看得懂一点点,但是那些工作人员说的英语,我却听不懂。我心里忐忑不安,我想我怎能通过面试呢?

A woman came out to make a roll call. We would take turns to walk into a small room for an interview. When my turn came, I too walked into the small room. A tall and big Canadian man was sitting there, greeting me warmly with a big genial smile without a trace of haughtiness. His assistant was a Hong Kong woman who spoke fluent Cantonese and translated for him and me. He asked me some basic questions pertaining to my family background, my education level, and so on. I didn’t dare ask his name, so to this day I still don’t know his name. The interview was over in less than ten minutes. He gave me an address and told me to go to this place for a medical checkup.

时间到了,一位女士拿着一张名单来点名,然后我们逐一进去一个小房间里面试。轮到我了,我进去那个小房间里,有一位很高大的加拿大人在里面,他满面笑容,非常和蔼可亲,很有礼貌地和我打招呼,一点架子都没有。他的助手是香港人,会说流利的广东话。因为我不懂英语,他的助手就当翻译。他问了一些基本的问题,例如家庭情况,学历等等。我不敢问他的名字,所以一直到今天我都不知道他的名字。面试不到十分钟就结束了,他交给我一个地址,叫我按地址去做身体检查。

I went back to my room, and my roommates asked me how the interview went. I told them that the interviewer had asked me to go for a medical checkup, and that I didn’t know what would be next. All my roommates said, “It’s a good sign when he asks you to go for a medical checkup, because it means that he wants to accept you. If he didn’t want to accept you, he won’t have arranged a medical checkup.”

我回到房间里,室友们问我面试的情况,我说那位面试人员叫我去做体检,我不晓得他下一步是什么。室友们都说:“这是好事啊,他叫妳去做体检就是打算要收容妳了,如果他不想收妳的话,他才不会让妳去做体检!”

With the hospital address I went for a medical checkup (I forget which hospital). On the day of the checkup, I was coughing badly because I was recovering from a flu. I thought that this will ruin things for me, and I won’t pass the examination. The hospital staff told me that they will send the results directly to the Canadian consulate.

我按着地址去一家医院做身体检查(我忘记了是哪一家医院)。那天我咳嗽的很凶,因为我害感冒刚痊愈,我想这下子可糟糕了,我一定不能通过了!医院方面说他们会把体检的结果直接寄给加拿大领事馆。

After one or two weeks, a notice was posted at the refugee camp’s notice board saying that the Canadian office wants to see me for a second interview. I didn’t know what the results of the medical checkup were like. But because anxiety doesn’t solve anything, I decided to let go of the anxiety and just focus on the interview. I saw that genial Canadian again. This time he didn’t ask me any questions, but started a casual conversation with me. He said he came from Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and that he might see me there in the future. I was at a loss, not understanding what the statement might mean. He laughed and said, “Congratulations! You are going to Ottawa, Canada, very soon!” I got a shock and couldn’t say a word. Things were happening too fast, too smoothly. “Is it for real? Am I dreaming?” He smiled and said, “You have to start packing now because you will be leaving very soon.” I was so happy that I forgot to thank him. At the end of the interview, he said goodbye to me with his heavily accented Cantonese; it turned out that he could speak some Cantonese after all.

大概过了一、两周,难民营的告示板上又有通告出来,加拿大的政府人员找我去作第二次面试。我不知道体检的结果是好是坏,反正担心也担心不来,倒不 如放开胸怀地去做面试吧!我又见到那个很和气的加拿大人,这次他不问我问题,他跟我聊天。他说他是从加拿大首都渥太华来的,将来他可能会在渥太华再碰到我。我不明白这句话是什么意思,我有点不知所措。他笑着说:“恭喜妳了,妳快要去加拿大的渥太华了!”我被吓了一跳,目瞪口呆地说不出话来。事情来得太快,太顺利了,这是不是真的?我是在做梦吗?他微笑对我说:“妳要收拾行李了,妳很快就要走了。”我高兴得什么都忘记了,连感谢都没说一声。面试结束前,他用生硬的广东话跟我说再见,原来他懂一点点广东话!

I started packing my things, yet I was still working for the electronics company. Then I saw my sister, my brother-in-law, and their son at the refugee camp. They had arrived in Hong Kong much earlier than I, but had been kept in the closed refugee camp for half a year, and was transferred to the open camp in Sham Shui Po only recently. I told them that I had been accepted by the Canadian government, and will be going to Canada soon.

我一边继续在电子工厂上班、一边准备行装的时候,我在难民营里碰到我姐姐、姐夫和他们的孩子。他们到达香港比我早多了,但他们在“封闭营”里呆了半年,才刚刚获准转来深水埗的“开放营”。我告诉他们我已获得加拿大政府收容,我快要去加拿大的首都渥太华了。

A week after that second interview, there was a statement on the notice board telling me to prepare to fly to Canada the coming Friday. I felt I was in a dream, yet going to Canada was now no longer an illusion. I was the first of all the people in our two boats to leave Hong Kong. The next day I went to my company to resign from my job. I had been working there for about two months, and had saved up some money with which I bought a suitcase, clothing, and some articles for daily use.

第二次面试后一周,告示板有通告出来说我在下周五就要上飞机前往加拿大了。我有点如梦如幻的感觉,我真的要去加拿大了。在我们两艘船里,我是第一个离开香港的人。第二天我回去工厂辞职。我工作了大概两个月左右,也积蓄了一点点钱,我就用那些钱来买行李箱,衣服和日常生活用品等等。

The Canadian government sent a Canadian Air Force airplane that had flown into Hong Kong from Ottawa to pick us up. On July 27th 1979 early in the morning, the Canadian who interviewed me came to the refugee camp with several assistants. They collected our refugee cards, and we all got on a big bus to go to Hong Kong’s military airport.

加拿大政府派了一辆加拿大空军飞机从渥太华飞到香港来接我们。1979年7月27 日清早,那位给我面试的加拿大人和几个助手来到难民营,他们收回我们的难民证,然后我们登上一辆大巴士(公车)前去香港的军事飞机场。

In total I had stayed in Hong Kong for slightly more than five months. Yahweh, the gracious True God, allowed me to stay here to recuperate from physical and mental exhaustion. Then the time came for me to go on yet another journey, this time flying to Canada to rebuild my future.

我在香港逗留了五个多月,慈爱的真神雅伟让我在这里休息一下我疲惫的身心,然后我再踏上征途,飞往加拿大去重建我的前途。

The plane took off at eight o’clock in the morning, and stopped at Japan and Alaska before landing in Vancouver, Canada. A group of refugees who were to settle in Vancouver got off the plane. After stopping for around half an hour, the plane took off again, reaching Toronto after flying around six hours. Everyone got off at the Toronto airport. The government of the city of Toronto had arranged to pick up those refugees who were to settle in Toronto, whereas the Immigration Department arranged for the rest of us, including myself, to stay at the airport hotel. It was eight o’clock in the evening, local time, July 27th 1979. After flying for 24 hours, we rested at the airport hotel for one night. The next morning, after getting up, we had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. After that we were divided into two groups; one group flew to Ottawa, the other to Montreal.

飞机在上午8点钟起飞,经过日本、阿拉斯加,然后降落在加拿大的温哥华市。一批要在温哥华定居的难民下了飞机,我们的飞机停留了大概半个小时后又再起飞。经过六个小时的飞行后,我们到达多伦多,所有的难民都下了飞机。多伦多市政府来迎接那些要在多伦多定居的难民,而其余的难民就由移民局安排送去机场旅馆休息。多伦多时间是晚上8点钟,那是1979年7月27日,我们已飞行了二十四个小时。我们在旅馆休息一晚后,第二天早上起来,在旅馆的餐厅吃过早餐后,我们分成两批:一批飞往渥太华,另一批飞往蒙特利尔。

Moving from Ottawa to Toronto
从渥太华迁到多伦多

The flight from Toronto to Ottawa was very short, and in less than an hour we arrived at Ottawa, the capital of Canada. The government put us in a downtown hotel named Bytown, where I stayed at the top floor.

这一段从多伦多到渥太华的飞行很短,大概不到一小时我们就到达加拿大的首都渥太华了。政府安排我们住在市中心的一家名叫“Bytown” 的酒店里,我住在顶楼。

The government took very good care of us. Waiting for us in the hotel were several Vietnamese refugees who had arrived earlier than we. Since they could speak English, the Immigration Department had hired them to be our translators. They told us that Ms. Marion Dewar, the mayor of Ottawa, had started a project called “Project 4000,” to promote her plan to accept 4000 Vietnamese refugees into Ottawa. Many politicians in Canada opposed her project, saying that Ottawa was not a big commercial city like Toronto, and lacked the resources to absorb so many refugees. Many of Ms. Dewar’s political rivals made use of this incident to attack her. But she refused to back down, and met with community leaders and religious leaders to ask them to support the project. In the end, all these organiz­ations were willing to give their support and even their concrete help. Only then did Ms. Dewar’s political rivals stop attacking her. After hearing of this, I was very touched. I am grateful to Ms. Dewar, a loving, caring, capable, and respectable stateswoman. She had served as the mayor of Ottawa from 1978 to 1985, and passed away on September 16th 2008 at the age of 80. Project 4000 became a most successful project and was enthusiastically discussed by the people in Ottawa.

政府对我们照顾得很周到,在酒店里早已有几位比我们先到的越南难民等着。因为他们会说英语,所以移民局聘请他们当我们的翻译。他们说渥太华的市长Marion Dewar女士发起了一个“4000方案”,她打算收容4000名越南难民来渥太华。当时加拿大很多政界人士都反对她这个方案,他们认为渥太华并不是像多伦多那样的商业大城市,没有能力吸收那么多难民。当时Dewar女士的政敌们就借此来抨击她。但Dewar女士毫不气馁,她和各个社区团体和宗教组织的领导会晤商谈,请求他们拥护这个方案。结果各个团体都热烈支持并愿意提供帮助,后来Dewar女士的政敌们才缄默了。我听了这段话后,心里非常感动,我感谢Dewar女士,这位有爱心、有魄力、可敬的政治家。Dewar女士从1978 至1985年任渥太华市长,她在2008年9月16日去世,享年80岁。时至今日,“4000方案”成为渥太华市最成功、最为人津津乐道的方案。

The government gave each of us sixty dollars per week as living allowance. Every week there were new arrivals of refugees into Ottawa, but the government didn’t have enough manpower to take care of us. So they asked the Catholic church and the Protestant churches for people to help out with the work, with all expenses paid by the government.

政府每周发给我们每人六十块钱作为生活费。因为每周都有一批难民来到渥太华市,政府没有足够的人员来照顾我们,所以他们请求天主教会和基督教会派出人员来帮忙,一切费用由政府负责。

The churches received from the government a list of the refugees, and they visited the hotels where the refugees were staying. One day several Christians knocked on my door, and gave me a lot of help. At that time I didn’t speak English. I could only say, “Hello, how are you? Fine, thank you.” Because I didn’t speak English, I had to rely on them for translation. They brought us to various places to look for an apartment to rent. After around one month, three other girls and I rented an apartment to share together.

各个教会向政府要了一份难民名单,他们来到难民居住的各酒店探访。一天有几位基督徒来敲我的房门,他们给了我很大的帮助。那时候我不懂英语,我只懂得说:“Hello, how are you? Fine, thank you.” 因为我不懂英语,我常常要倚靠他们替我翻译,他们带着我们到处去找房子。大概一个月后,我和另外三个女孩子一起合租了一间公寓。

The government arranged for us to take English lessons, while the Christian friends invited us to attend their church meetings. At that time I didn’t believe in either Yahweh God or the Lord Jesus Christ, yet it was hard for me to decline the invitation from these Christian friends because they had given us so much help. So when I had the time, I would attend the church meeting, but if I had other things to do, I would not go.

政府安排我们去上英语课,那些基督徒朋友也来邀请我们去教会。那时候我完全不相信雅伟神和主耶稣基督,不过因为那些基督徒朋友们给我的帮助太多了,当他们邀请我去教会的时候,我很难拒绝他们。所以当我有空的时候,我也会去教会走走,但是一旦有其他的事情,我就不去了。

After I had taken English lessons for two months, my teachers said that I had sufficient ability in English to look for a job. With help from the Department of Manpower, I found a job as an assembler of electronics components at a high-tech company. This was the company that made the space arm for the American space shuttle, and the job requirements were correspondingly high. Every electronic component was so small that one needed a microscope to see it clearly. Every day I had to look through the microscope to solder the components together. To be frank, I didn’t like this job because I was afraid that this kind of work will damage my eyes and ruin my future. I was planning to work for one or two years to save up some money, while continuing my English studies and taking grade 13 courses to prepare to apply for university. If my eyes got damaged, my future would be ruined.

我上了两个月的英语课后,老师们认为我的英语程度已足够去找工作了。靠着政府的Manpower(人力)部门的帮忙,我在一家高科技的电子公司中找到一份电子零件装配员的工作。那家电子公司制造美国的太空船上的 “太空手臂”(space arm),所以要求很高。每个零件都很微小,要用显微镜才可以看得清楚,每天我要透过显微镜来焊接那些零件。坦白说我不喜欢这份工作,因为我怕这样下去我的眼睛会被损坏,那么我就完蛋了。我打算先打一、两年工,积蓄一点钱,同时继续学习英文和修读加拿大中学的第十三年级的课程,准备申请大学。如果我的眼睛坏了,我的前途也就没了。

Therefore, right from day one, I didn’t put my heart into my work, and the outcome was predict­able. After around one month, I was fired. It was totally my fault, and had nothing to do with other people. But at least I had earned one month’s salary, a few hundred Canadian dollars, so it was not all that bad!

所以打从第一天开始我就没有好好地努力去做,后果是可想而知!大概一个月后,我就被革职了。这完全是我的错,与任何人无关。但我还是赚了一个月的工资,有几百块加币,蛮不错了!

After I had lost my job, I again went to the Department of Manpower for help. But after one month I still couldn’t get a job. I was relying on my one month’s salary to cover my living expenses, and when the money was running low, my heart was getting more and more anxious. I didn’t have anyone to whom I could pour out my heart. My mother had passed away, my father was still in Vietnam, the three girls staying with me were as poor as I, and couldn’t help me at all.

失业后,我又去Manpower(人力部门)请他们帮忙我找工作。但过了一个月,我还是找不到工作。每天就靠那一个月的工资来吃饭,钱越来越少,我心中也越来越担忧。我不知道向谁诉说,母亲已去世,父亲还在越南,那三个和我一起住的女孩子也和我一样的穷,她们也帮不了我的忙。

In my fear and anxiety, I thought about God. I remembered that my Christian friends would pray very often. They would pray when they encountered difficulties, but also when they were happy. I felt that I could also pray to God for help, so I prayed for the first time. Not know­ing how to pray, I just poured out all my anxieties to God, telling Him that I was very afraid, and that I needed Him to help me.

在彷徨害怕中,我想到了神。我想起教会中的那些基督徒朋友常常祷告,他们有困难时就祷告,快乐时也祷告。我想我也可以试试祷告求神帮助我,那是我第一次向神祷告。我也不懂得祷告要说些什么,我只把心中所有的担忧全部向神倾吐出来,我告诉祂我很害怕,我求祂帮助我。

Some of my friends had told me that it was much easier to find a job in Toronto because it was the commercial center of Canada where many businesses and industries were flourishing. I wondered if I should go to Toronto to look for a job, but I was afraid to go to an unfamiliar city by myself. So I asked God to show me the right way to go about it.

有些朋友告诉我在另外一个城市多伦多市找工作就容易多了,因为多伦多是加拿大的商业中心,工业和商业都发达。我想我是否也应该去多伦多找工作呢?但是单独一个人去一个完全陌生的城市,我又害怕。所以我祷告求神指示我该走的道路。

A few days later, a Vietnamese refugee came from Toronto to Ottawa to visit his friends. When I heard that he was from Toronto, I asked him whether it was easy to find a job in Toronto. He said, “It is very easy to find a job. There are lots of factories there. So long as you don’t mind having a low salary and are willing to work hard, you can find a job in one or two days.” After hearing this, I decided to give Toronto a try.

过了几天,有一个越南难民从多伦多来到渥太华探望朋友。当我听说这个人来自多伦多,我就问他在多伦多好不好找工作。他说:“在多伦多找工作非常容易,那里工厂很多,只要你不嫌工资低,又肯吃苦,你可以在一、两天内就找到工作。”听完了这番话后,我决定去多伦多试试看。

I had friends in Toronto, including a family who had escaped on the same boat with me. Usually the friends who travelled on the same boat as refugees would be close to one another just like in a family, because we were truly living and dying together, going through thick and thin together. I called them up and asked if I could stay at their place for a few days. They welcomed me in. So at the beginning of 1980, I left Ottawa to look for a job in Toronto.

我有好些朋友在多伦多,其中有一个家庭是和我同一艘船逃出来的。通常同一艘船出来的朋友都犹如一家人一般的,因为大家曾经同生共死,患难与共。我就打电话去问他们我可不可以在他们家中暂住几天,他们都很欢迎我去。在1980年初我离开渥太华去多伦多找工作。

Working by day, studying by night
白天打工晚上读书

It was really easy to find a job in Toronto, and within one day I found a job in a small factory. Even though I got only minimum wage, three dollars an hour, it was sufficient to cover my expenses. After getting the job, I rented a room, and everything settled quickly. I started to look for an evening school to study English. My life was busy but stable. But I stopped going to church, having forgotten about God’s help.

在多伦多找工作真的很容易,不到一天我就在一家工厂找到一份工作。虽然只是最低工资,三块钱一小时,但还是够用。找到工作后,我就去租房间,生活很快就安顿下来。我开始找夜校读英文,我的生活安定而忙碌。我又不去教会了,我已完全忘记了神的帮助。

The Ontario Department of Education requires students to have the grade 13 certificate before apply­ing for university. I was planning to take the grade 13 courses at evening classes, but very few evening schools offered grade 13 courses, and those few were located in the suburbs very far from my place. The winter in Toronto is very cold, with night temperatures some­times dropping to ‑20° or -25°. Most of the people living in the suburbs of Toronto would travel by car in the evening; few would walk or take public transport. I didn’t have a car, and I wouldn’t want to spend money on one even if I could, for I had to save every penny for my future university expenses. Given the situation, it was very hard for me to take grade 13 courses at an evening school.

根据当时加拿大安大略(Ontario)省教育部的规定,学生要有第十三年级的证书才可以申请大学。我打算去夜校读第十三年级,但是只有很少数的夜校中学开办第十三年级的课程,而那些学校都是在郊区,离我住的地方很远。多伦多的冬天很冷,晚上的温度会下降到零下二十或零下二十五度。在郊区冬天晚上大多数人都驾车,很少人乘公车或走路。我没有车,也不想花钱买车,我要把每一分钱都存下来准备将来上大学。在这种情况下我很难去夜校读第十三年级。

I was thinking hard to come up with a way to take grade 13 courses, when suddenly I remembered that when I was in Ottawa, one day I visited the pastor of the church, and saw in his office a booklet about Canadian primary and secondary level correspondence education. I was overjoyed and hopeful when I remembered this, because education by correspondence could be a way for me to take grade 13 courses. I immediately looked up the address of the Ontario Correspondence Education Department, and sent in a letter to request an application form. I didn’t dare phone them up because I didn’t speak fluent English, but at least I could write a letter. After one or two weeks I received an applicat­ion form from the correspondence school. This course was free of charge, with a straightforward registration process: simply fill up the form and send it back to them.

我绞尽脑汁要想个办法去读第十三年级,突然我想起当我还在渥太华的时候,有一天我去见教会的牧师,在他的办公室里,我看到一本关于加拿大函授中学和小学课程的书。一想起这一点,我喜出望外,函授课程正是我唯一可以读第十三年级的办法。我立刻找出安大略省函授教育机构的地址,我写了一封信去申请。我不敢打电话去,因为我的英语说得不流利,但写英文我还可以。大概一、两个星期后,我收到函授学校寄来的申请表格。这个课程是完全免费的,登记的手续非常简单,我只要把表格填好,然后寄回去给他们。

I ended up taking four courses in mathematics, one in physics, and one in chemistry. The school sent me notebooks, envelopes, and experiment kits; all were free of charge except the textbooks, which I had to purchase. Each course had a teacher assigned to it, and if there was anything I didn’t understand, I could write the teacher. After completing one lesson, I would do an assignment and send it to the teacher for marking. And after completing all the lessons of a course, I would take an examination. I was not allowed to write the exam at home but only at the correspondence school. If I passed the exam I would get one credit. Six credits from grade 13 courses are required for applying for university admission.

我选读了四科数学、一科物理、一科化学。学校寄给我笔记本、信封,还有做实验的用具,这些都是免费的,但我要自己付钱买教科书。每一科有一个老师,如果有不明白的地方,我可以写信问老师。读完了一课就要做习题,寄去给老师批改。当我完成了一科所有的课本,就要考试。我不可以在家里考,我要去函授学校考试。如果我考试通过了,就得到一个学分(credit)。申请大学需要六个第十三年级的学分。

I worked at the factory by day, and studied the grade 13 courses at home in the evening. My English was still bad, so there were many words and terms in the textbooks which I didn’t understand. I had to consult my dictionary all the time, which slowed my study progress. Every night I would study up to one or two o’clock after midnight, yet I still had to get up at six o’clock in the morning to go to work. Every day I was very tired and didn’t get enough sleep. I got sufficient sleep only during the weekends. I was studying the grade 13 courses very hard while working with all my energy to make a living. In this kind of situation I had an excuse not to go to church.

白天我在工厂打工,晚上在家里自学十三年级的课程。那时我的英文还是很差,在课本里有很多词语我不懂,我要不断地查字典才可以学习,所以我读得很慢。每个晚上我都读书到凌晨一、两点才睡觉,第二天一大清早六点钟我就要起床去上班。每天我都很疲倦,每天我都睡眠不足,只有在周末我才可以睡个够。我就这样一边努力读十三年级的函授课程,一边拼命打工维持生活。在这种情况下我有最好的不去教会的借口。

The nationwide postal strike
全国邮政工人罢工

After one year, I finished six grade 13 courses, and was preparing to apply for university. I had saved up some money for this, and because I had been working for one and half years, I was eligible to apply for a student grant from the government. Even though it was easy to find a job in Toronto, I didn’t like this bustling and busy city, preferring the serenity and beauty of Ottawa. I missed Ottawa a lot, so I decided to go back there and apply to the University of Ottawa.

一年后我完成了十三年级的六个学分,我就准备申请大学。我已积蓄了一笔钱,而且我工作了一年半,我有权申请政府的助学金。虽然在多伦多很容易找到工作,但我不喜欢这个繁华热闹的城市,我比较喜欢渥太华的优雅宁静。我很怀念渥太华,所以我决定回去,我申请了渥太华大学。

In the summer of that year, 1981, the Canadian postal workers went on strike nationwide. Before I could receive the examination results for the chemistry course which was my last course, all postal delivery had stopped. At that time there was no such thing as email or a document scanner, so all paper documents were sent by post. Without the postal service, you couldn’t do anything. Because of the seemingly intractable nature of the strike, many private delivery com­panies had emerged, but that was of no use to me because I hadn’t even received my examination results. So how could I send it to the University of Ottawa?

偏偏那一年(1981年)的夏天加拿大全国邮政工人大罢工。我最后一科化学的成绩表还没收到,邮递工作就全部停顿了。那时候没有Email (电邮),也没有scanner(扫描器),一切文件都要邮递寄去,没有邮政就什么都办不来。很多私人的邮递服务应运而生,但我连最后一科的成绩表都还没收到,又拿什么寄去渥太华大学呢!

I was anxious and indignant, not knowing what to do, since no one could help me. Then I remembered God. In my one and half years in Toronto I didn’t go to church, but when I ran into a problem I would come before God to ask for help again. So once again I poured out to God all the indignation and anxiety in my heart, asking Him to end the strike early so that I could receive my examination results and send it to University of Ottawa. If I miss the application deadline, I would have to wait another year.

我又着急又气愤,不知怎么办才好,谁都帮不了我。忽然我想起了神,在多伦多一年半我没有去教会,现在有困难我又来求告神。我再次把心里所有的气愤和彷徨都向神哭诉出来,我求祂使那场罢工早点结束,让我可以及时收到成绩表,然后寄去渥太华大学,如果错过了申请的期限,我就要多等一年。

Nothing happened after the prayer, and the postal strike didn’t end. I eventually accepted the reality of waiting an extra year if I couldn’t go to university this year. In any case, my studies had been delayed again and again for many years; another delay of one year was no big deal. I started to complain to God and questioned His fairness, since I had to work so hard to make a living, yet at the same time I had to study hard on my own. I felt that He didn’t want to help me. But of course I felt that way only because I had forgotten how many times He had help me in the past.

祷告完了也不见有什么效果,邮政工人的罢工还是迟迟不结束。最后我想就接受现实吧,如果今年上不了大学,就等下一年好了。反正我的学业都被延迟了那么多年,再延迟多一年也没什么大不了。我开始埋怨神,我埋怨祂不公平,我这么努力地一边打工一边自学读书,祂都不愿意帮助我。以前多少次神给我的帮助,我全都忘记了。

The postal strike carried on for many weeks until the labor demands were finally met, and the postal workers returned to work. I finally received my chemistry exam results from the correspondence school. Irrespective of whether the deadline for application had passed or not, I decided to send the results to the University of Ottawa with a letter to explain to them the reasons for the delay, and see whether they would be lenient enough to accept my applicat­ion. While I was preparing the documents, and before I could send them out, the next day when I came home from work, I received a letter from the University of Ottawa. I looked at the letter, but didn’t dare open it. I thought that it was the end for me; the University was probably informing me that it was too late, for the deadline had passed. After a few minutes I summoned all my courage and opened the letter. I took a look and almost fainted, for the University of Ottawa had accepted me, this being a letter of acceptance. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and looked at the letter more carefully. The university not only accepted me, but granted me an admission scholarship of one thousand dollars, just enough to cover my first year’s tuition.

邮政工人罢工了很多个星期,最后他们的要求达到了,才愿意复工。我终于收到函授学校寄来的化学科的成绩表。我想不管是否已过了申请期限,还是照样把所有的成绩表连同一封信寄给渥太华大学,向他们说明延迟的原因,看看他们肯不肯网开一面录取我。我正在准备所有的文件,还没有寄出去,第二天我下班回家就受到一封渥太华大学寄来的信。我望着那封信,我不敢打开。我想完蛋了,一定是渥太华大学来信说太迟了,已过了申请期限。过了几分钟,我才鼓起勇气,打开了那封信。一看之下,我差点晕倒过去,渥太华大学已录取了我,那是一封录取通知书。我不能相信自己的眼睛,我再仔细看看,大学不但录取了我,还给了我一千块钱的入学奖学金,刚刚够我第一年的学费。

It turned out that the correspondence school had sent all the examination results on my behalf to the University of Ottawa, and the university had accepted me. They were just waiting for the postal strike to end before sending me the acceptance letter. During the strike, the correspondence school made a special arrangement, maybe through a private delivery service, to send my results to the University of Ottawa. Private courier services are not cheap, and I wasn’t anyone im­portant, just a poor working student. So why was the correspondence school willing to go through all the trouble for such a lowly person? Isn’t it amazing?

原来函授学校替我把所有的成绩表寄过去了,渥太华大学决定录取我之后,只等罢工结束就把录取通知书寄来给我。在邮政罢工期间,函授学校要作出特别安排,可能是透过私人邮递公司,才可以把我的成绩表寄给渥太华大学。私人邮递服务的价格可不便宜啊,我不是什么重要人物,我只不过是一个贫穷的工人学生,为什么函授学校愿意为了一个这样卑微的人而大费周章呢?这不是太奇怪吗?

Only after I had come to know Yahweh our God and Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, did I realize that this was the wonderful work of Father God. It was He who worked in the hearts of the staff at the correspondence school, such that they were willing to make arrange­ments to send my exam results to the University of Ottawa. At that time I asked God to end the strike, but it was still dragging on after many weeks. I thought that God didn’t want to help me, and I complained to Him. He not only listened to my prayer, but granted me far more than what I asked. Abba Father Yahweh, why do You love me so much? I don’t deserve this!

后来我认识了雅伟父神和主耶稣基督之后,我才明白这是父神大能的作为。祂在函授学校的行政人员心里动工,使他们乐意为我作出安排,把我的成绩表寄给渥太华大学。那时候我恳求神使那场罢工早点结束,但是罢工还是延长了很多个星期。我以为神不愿意帮助我,我还埋怨祂。其实祂不但垂听了我的祷告,而且祂赐给我的还好过我所求的。阿爸父雅伟,为什么袮这么爱我?我不配!

The University of Ottawa
渥太华大学

Late August 1981, two years after I had arrived in Canada, I packed my belongings to go back to Ottawa to begin my university studies. When I was attending secondary school in Vietnam, I resolved to become a physicist, but after have gone through all the sufferings, my thinking had become more realistic. It was hard to find a job in physics, so I decided to choose a major that could help me find a good paying job in the future. I chose computer science.

1981年8月底,我抵达加拿大两年后,我收拾行李返回渥太华上大学。以前在越南读中学的时候,我立志要成为物理学家,但经历了这么多苦难后,我的想法也变得现实了。物理学的工作並不好找,现在我只想读一门将来能找到高薪工作的学科,所以我选读了电脑科学 (Computer Science).

During my one and half years in Toronto, I didn’t go to church, but now, after coming back to Ottawa I remembered the pastor and my friends in the church who had helped me so much in the past. So I went back to the church again.

在多伦多一年半我没有去教会,但回到了渥太华后,我想起牧师和教会的那些朋友,以前他们都帮了我很多忙,所以我又再回到教会。

My university studies were very heavy, and my English was still not good. In the beginning I didn’t understand what the professors were saying. I had to go home to study the textbooks by myself. I had to spend more time than my classmates in studying. As a result, I was willing to go to church only when I was not busy, but when I was busy I would skip church. This kind of situation carried on until 1983, when I was in my second year. One Sunday the pastor asked me if I had ever thought of becoming a Christian. I was stunned. I didn’t want to think about it, for I didn’t want to commit my life to God.

大学的功课很繁重,而且我的英文不大好,刚开始的时候,我不大听得懂教授的讲解,我要回家自己看书,我比我的同学要花更多的时间来学习。所以只有当我不是太忙的时候,我才愿意去教会,一忙起来我又不去了。这种情况一直延续到1983年,我读大学二年级的时候。在一个星期日,牧师问我有没有想过要成为基督徒。我很惊愕,我不愿思考这个问题,那时候我还是不愿意把自己的生命交托给神。

Actually, in my heart I did believe that in the unseen spiritual world, there is a God. I reflected on this from the time I left my home in Vietnam to the time I arrived in Canada, a time span during which I had gone through much danger and hardship. If there was no God who controls everything and protects me, I would have died. I was naive and ignorant, so even if I hadn’t died, I could easily have gone on the wrong track in life such that any talk of going to university would be irrelevant. After I had arrived in Canada, I still had to rely on God’s help, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to finish the grade 13 correspondence courses in one year. Since childhood I had always been prone to illness. Even though my mother would take very good care of me, I would still fall sick very often. All along my parents were afraid that I might die young. When I was in Toronto, I worked in the factory during the day and studied at home in the evening, and got only around five hours of sleep every night. I was living by myself with no one taking care of me, yet the strange thing was that I didn’t get any serious illnesses, the worst being just a cold, from which I recovered in one or two days. I was aware of my health situation, so I have nothing to boast about. Even though at that time I wasn’t willing to commit my life to God, I had to admit that in the unseen spiritual world there was a mighty God who was protecting me.

其实我心中也相信在冥冥之中确是有一位神。我回想从我离家一直到我抵达加拿大,我经历了多少危险困难,如果没有一位掌管着一切的神在保护着我,恐怕我早已死掉了。那时候我又天真又无知,即使不死,恐怕我早已走上歧途而堕落了,还说什么上大学。到了加拿大后,我还是要倚靠神的帮助,否则我绝不能在一年内完成第十三年级的函授课程。我从小体弱多病,虽然母亲很细心地照顾我,我还是常常生病,我的父母一直担心我会少年夭折。我在多伦多的时候,白天在工厂打工,晚上在家里读书,每个晚上大概只睡五个小时左右。我自己一个人住,没有人照顾我,但奇怪的是我没有患重病,最多也只是患伤风感冒,一两天就痊愈了。我知道自己的身体情况,我完全不能夸口。虽然那时候我不愿意把生命交托给神,但我也承认冥冥之中有一位大能的神在保护着我。

If that is the case, why wasn’t I willing to commit my life to God? Because I was wrestling with two questions in my heart.

既然这样,那为什么我又不愿意把自己的生命交托给神呢?因为那时候我心中有两个疑问。

The first question was whether God really loved me. Does He really love all human beings? The Bible says that God loves the world, but I thought that He was not a fair God, and that He loved the people in the Western countries more that the people in Asia and Africa. People in the Western countries were living a comfortable life, but those living in Vietnam had to risk their lives to escape from the country. My mother had been longing for more than thirty years to be reunited with her family, but at the end she died in despair. Even after I arrived in Canada, I still had to go through a lot of hardship in order to go to university, but my classmates didn’t have to worry about anything. I felt that this was unfair! I didn’t want to commit my life to an unfair God. Although I had experienced much of God’s grace and love, yet I went so far as to say that He was unfair, that was how stupid and ungrateful I was.

第一个疑问就是神真的爱我吗?祂真的爱每个人吗?圣经说神爱世人,但我总是觉得神不公平,我认为神爱西方国家的人多过爱亚洲、非洲等地的人。西方人生活得那么舒服,而我们在越南的人却要冒着生命危险才能逃出来。母亲三十多年来日夜盼望着能够和亲人团聚,最后却是含恨而终。我到了加拿大之后还是历尽千辛万苦才能上大学,但我的同学们却什么都不用管。真是太不公平啊!我不愿意把自己的生命交托给一位不公平的神。其实我早已经历过神的恩惠大爱,但我居然还说神不公平,我真是既愚蠢又忘恩负义。

The second question had to do with sin. I admitted that I was a sinner, yet I thought that my sins were very minor, and that many Christians were living lives which were far worse than mine, even committing serious sins. If at the future Judgment these Christians who had committed serious sins or whose lives were much worse than mine can enter into eternal life, yet I who had committed only minor sins have to go to hell, that would be really unfair!

第二个疑问是关乎罪。我承认我是一个罪人,但我认为我犯的罪很微小,有很多基督徒的生命和行为比我坏得多,有些基督徒还犯了很严重的罪。将来在审判的日子,如果那些犯了严重的罪的基督徒和那些比我坏得多的基督徒却可以享受永生,而我这个只犯那么一点点小罪的人却要下地狱,那就太不公平了!

(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church