Friday, June 10, 2011

Lessons From a Miracle Taken For Granted

10-July, 1997: Gengma, Yunnan China PRC

I hardly discussed my time with The Salvation Army, specifically in regards to my experience with the China Service Corps Team in 1997. On a personal level, the assignment ended on such a devastating note, I cared not to discuss the trip in details as much as my teammates. It was a lot of "firsts" for this specific program that it received much fanfare and publicity in the aftermath. I barely kept up with the post momentum.

Photos don't lie and there are a lot of photos where I'm actually smiling and having a blast during the trip. I just chose to "throw the baby out with the bath water." Following the trip, vivid images of a newborn on life support, children begging on the streets, cheating taxi drivers, and my emergency hospital visit were the events I chose to recall in details if I even bothered to mention the trip at all. Yeah I did have a choice on which events to recall. I felt more "comfy" with the neggies.

All because I didn't get laid.

Yeah I know I'm going on behalf of a Christian organization, but so what? I'm a half a world away in a foreign country for the first time in my life, and not one booty call. I was pissed at the end.

When I grew up listening to Motley Crue during my junior high years, I recalled an interview Nikki Sixx made:

"I don't want to sit at some goddam old folks home on a fucking rocking chair, turn on Vince's (Neil) hearing aide, and say, 'I wish I fucked that chick.'"

I didn't understand what Nikki meant when I initially read it in junior high, but I sure as hell understood it after my trip to China.

So I allowed regret to shadow my first experience in Asia.

I didn't focus on the preschool age children approaching me, calling me "ShuShu" ("Uncle") or the many dances with university female students, or the laughter, or the street artist who accurately, amazingly sketched a wallet-size photo of myself. No, I chose to focus on what I hated about the trip.

I'm recalling all of this now because of a lesson I'm currently reviewing. There was a quote stating that people who are focused on the problems tend to miss the miracles.

*RAISES HAND* Yup, guilty.

Our team traveled from Kunming, Yunnan China to Lincang County, down to Gengma and we were returning to Lincang. One of our teammates Ken was sick and did not make our tour of Gengma, so we had to pick him back up from Lincang. At that time (1997) the roads were not fully developed yet, and one of the main road was a paved dirt trail along a rivers edge from Lincang to Gengma. Our team even nicknamed the river as the "Milktea" river because of the resemblance to milktea.

Gengma was like one of the worse of the visit during that four days because it rained 90% of the time. The accommodations were not modernized and there were regular evening blackouts. I was in a very cranky mood and I longed to return to Lincang where the hotel was more modern.

While driving alongside the "Milktea" River (to this day I have no idea what the actual name of the river is) our bus had a flat. The driver announced that we were to empty the bus while he changes the tire. Mind you that this driver was already on my shit list as he had attempted to show us the border to Myanmar and drove so close that we ended up searched by the Myanmar border patrols with their automatic weapons pointed at us.

So we're getting soaking wet while the driver then discovers that the flat is located in the inner layer of a two layer wheel, which meant that he had to take out the outer wheel first before replacing the flat inside. At that point, I decided to occupy myself by grabbing pieces of mud, which was plentiful, and wrote "SOUR" all over the bus. If you're wondering why the word, "SOUR" it was the closest 4-letter 'S' word that I could think of off the top of my head that meant as close to the "other" 4-letter 'S' word. My teammates are annoyed at me by this point and asked me when I was going to stop my antics. I told them as soon as I'm back inside the bus I'll stop.

Finally our driver completes the tire change and we're back inside the bus. We're driving along the road when an oncoming vehicle approached us. Our driver and the other driver are conversing and it becomes gradually more escalated. I'm mumbling to myself at that point for the driver to "shut the f* up and f*king drive." Then Colonel Yee, our adviser, and our translators/escorts joins in on the conversation with the drivers and it gets more excitedly escalated. Turned out that the other vehicle was an emergency vehicle who just completed a quick makeshift preliminary cleanup/repave work on the road ahead of us. Less that 20-30 minutes prior, there was a major mudslide/avalanche on the road. Chances are, had we not had to stop and change the tire, we would've been most likely in that "Milktea" river. As we got to the cleanup slide location, we barely made it through that road as it was narrower and closer to the edge that we could see the river alongside our window. It was a literal "narrow" escape.

I didn't put much thought into that time until now. I'm going through what I thought was a "bad" situation, unaware that in the grand scheme of things, the lives of about 14 people including mine were being saved. I didn't realize how much of a close call that situation really was.

I was so focused on "SOUR," I didn't realize that a miracle was taking place for me. So as I sit here awaiting for my next miracle to happen, I take on the possibility of a miracle unfolding as I type this now. I just need to be patient, and focus on the "SWEET."

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