My mind spun as my eyes followed the Lazy Susan rotating in the middle of the table. A battle developed as only one plate presented familiarity to us teenage Americans. Rice. My untrained hands failed to utilize the chopsticks placed on the plastic tablecloth before me as I scrambled to fill my empty stomach with massive bites of this delicacy. After thirteen days the continuous appearances of rice scoops in my porcelain bowl lacked appeal, yet my stomach urged for something, something besides the fats of raised cattle, the remains of silkworm cocoons, and the private parts of slaughtered sheep. I never fathomed the extent of my stomach’s love for Mexican, American, Italian, and even Seafood.
â–º quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
During the China trek, my group and I took the crowded subway to the famous pearl market in Beijing. There I emptied my wallet completely, even having to use an American five-dollar bill for my last purchase. After fully satisfying my greed, I went with the entire group across a bridge to meet a tour guide. We passed a frail old lady, about fifty pounds at the most, unable to stand with sun-damaged wrinkles that held her by the concrete ground. My heart seemed to follow her dark saggy skin right through the ground. I attempted to show her all the joy I had with a forced smile, pushing through my guilt as I felt my weightless wallet.
We met our tour guide. He told us about the collection of water bottles in China. With every twenty bottles collected, a citizen is awarded one Yuan. Now each Yuan is about 6.4 American dollars. Not much of an award.
He took us to dinner that night, where I faced another Lazy Susan carrying more rice. This time, though, I tried the unrecognizable dishes as the waitresses brought out plates with water bottles to wash the pounds of food down. Sure, some food did not sit in my stomach well, but at least I had something to fill me, unlike the average Chinese citizen. Once everyone finished, I came up with an idea. Some of my friends and I collected everyone’s water bottles and carried them outside. It was not too hard to find someone in need. We gave an old, homeless lady twenty-two water bottles that night. Sure, the amount added up to a little over one Yuan, but her joy and “xe xe’s” (thank you’s) were priceless.
Earlier that day, Beezus, my group’s tour guide, mentioned that most Chinese, himself included, viewed Christianity as a temporary religion people seek only when they need something. Christianity is not about what Christ can do for us; it is about what Christ has done for us. We are here to serve Him by serving others. That night, we were able to speak about Christianity in a Buddhist country, simply by stating that our group was from Houston “Christian” High School in America. Sometimes the littlest statements and actions make a life-changing impact on a person, even someone that can barely speak English.
I experienced a different way of life in China, but from that trip I took away the knowledge that my group had spread the joy of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior across cultures.
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