Living in other countries helped me to gain perspective about how blessed we are in this Nation.
--I remember a man in Taiwan who lived on the streets. Every night in the winter he would rig up a sort of tent out of a piece of plastic to help shield himself from the wind. He had an overcoat that had been given to him by a missionary, but only had a pair of beach thongs for shoes, and no socks. Hardly any barrier to the cold ocean breezes blowing along the coast.
--I remember a man in China (and surely there are millions just like him) who rode his bike every day for two hours to get to work, and two more hours in the evening to get home. He rode in every kind of weather, including snow and biting Mongolian winds.
--I remember an old grandmother in Beijing riding a three wheeled bike. In the wagon on the back of the bike were her two granddaughters who were only about two years old each. Each child was wearing an adult pair of shoes to keep their feet warm as they rode along in the cold air. I purposefully rode my bike ahead of them, intent on finding a store that sold children's shoes. But when I turned back to see if they had caught up, I realized they were gone.
--I remember my husband telling me of seeing farm workers in Southern China huddled together eating their evening meal of steamed bread and cloves of garlic. I remember seeing a television program showing other farm workers, who had spent most of their day doing heavy labor, all standing around a large pot waiting to receive their evening meal of Ramen, without meat. I couldn't help but wonder how they got the energy to do the heavy labor with so little protein in their diet.
--I remember my close chinese friends Li Jia Na and Li Jia Ling who often came to my home to visit. On one occasion I turned on the satellite television and the Oprah show was on. One of them said to me, "How come American women are so fat?". I said, "Well, Americans don't get alot of exercise.". They said, "Don't they ride their bikes to work?". I said, "No, in America people drive cars.". I said, "Another reason people there are fat is that they eat alot of sweets.". One of the girls said, "Why do they spend their money on sugar which has no nutritional value, when they could be spending it on good nutritious food?". I felt almost embarassed to tell them that people in America have plenty of nutritious food, and enough to spare to buy sweets too.
--I remember seeing beggars in China who were dirty and underclothed. Most of them had some sort of physical handicap. Once, a Chinese friend of ours was visiting us in the States. As we were showing him the city, we passed a man begging. Our friend turned to us in surprise and asked why a man who appeared to be healthy and strong was begging.
--I remember eating in a McDonald's in Beijing and seeing a small child climbing around under the tables eating french fries that had fallen on the floor. Suddenly the owner came and made the child leave with her parents who were waiting outside the door. The parents were doing what they could to fill their child's belly.
I have had many opportunities to help the less fortunate, but unfortunately was not always in a position to help. At this time of Thanksgiving I hope that we all can try to make a difference in the life of atleast one needy individual. We can't help all the poor and underprivileged in the world, but we can all at least help one.