Getting a loving start

To the Editor:

Here is a memory tester for the Islander’s readers.

In May 1980, a group of churches in the Hancock-Waldo Association of the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ sought to support an international effort to relocate a Laotian family to Down East Maine. The group was assigned a family of nine; mother, father and seven children. The Phommasouk family arrived and lived in a trailer just off the center of town in Southwest Harbor on Clark Point Road.

The family stayed for a year, the father worked at The Jackson Lab, and the kids went to public school. The relocating group worked hard to keep the family supported with food and housing without the need for government assistance.

In those cultural and political times, there were many challenges.

At the time, I was the host pastor in Southwest Harbor, but there were many great people on Mount Desert Island and from the churches and towns beyond who worked to help the family settle, learn English and adjust to living in the not-so-balmy Maine climate.

Last week, one of the children, Vanh, now 45 years old, reached out to me through Facebook to celebrate their thanksgiving for the support that they received from all the good folk of Maine.

They had been looking for “us” for a long time. They are all now successful U.S. citizens and live in California.

The family is interested to coming east and having a reunion with those who supported them and have asked me to try and locate the people who supported them that we might gather with them. It is wonderful to know about this success story and the great outcome for the family. You might have gone to school with the kids or tutored or helped the family in other ways.

The timing is to be determined. If you would like to be involved with the proposed reunion, please contact me at [email protected].

The Rev. Dr. Ken Ferguson

Killingly, Conn.

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