What if the person who saved your life said you changed theirs?

If we were rescued at the last minute in a war-torn country, we would be eternally grateful to those involved in the rescue. Few — if any — of us would expect to hear the rescuer said we changed their life. But before I tell that story, let me give you some context.

On our Together We Can Change the World project visits, we visited a new project for us, the Good Shepherd Sisters Hands of Hope in Nong Khai, Thailand (across from the Laos border). The GSS has an extensive program, offering all sorts of education and revenue-generating projects for poor villagers and those with HIV/AIDS.

• Two sewing and embroidery centers employing ~50 women
• Traditional Issan (local tribe) weaving center employing ~10 women
* The Education Sponsorship Program for 520 kids living in the surrounding villages which provides them uniforms and supplies for school
• A variety of outreach programs serving the needs of impoverished people living in 170+ surrounding villages
• HIV/AIDS education and outreach program
• Safe living village for HIV positive men and women

IMG_1499We started by visiting 95-year-old Sister Mary. She has been working in Thailand since after the Vietnam war. She was evacuated from Vietnam at the last minute by an American helicopter pilot who made a number of trips to rescue the other sisters and residents of the compound where Sister Mary was staying. Forty years later, he visited her and said she changed his life. He was so grateful, he built a small home for residents of the Good Sisters’ HIV facility and named the cottage after her.

Being humble, Sister Mary didn’t tell us this story; one of the staff did. So we weren’t able to discern what exactly she did to change this brave man’s life, but we saw the sparkle in her eyes, heard her quick wit, and experienced her loving embrace. We know that she has changed many people’s lives through her unselfish acts, so it was no surprise to hear that this man felt she changed his.

She keeps busy now by cutting materials needed for the Hands of Hope crafts projects that others assemble. She indulged our many questions about her life before shooing us off to tour the many projects GSS has initiated and manages with the villagers.

While Sister Mary’s rescue was dramatic, we all have the opportunity to change someone’s life — even if in a small way. You can change someone’s life with a kindness, a smile or a hug. Shouldn’t we seek every day to change someone’s life like this — and to be open to someone changing ours? Sometimes it’s something tiny that makes a huge difference.


We have begun fundraising for our May/June visit to more TWCCTW projects. I have committed to raising $1000 before the trip. If you’d like to help me achieve this goal, please go to http://twcctw.org/donate/ and enter my name in the notes section when you get to the PayPal page. Thanks!