The other night while sitting and watching the Issaquah High School football game I had a moment where I was in awe of our surroundings. I realize I was only in China for a short time but being in Beijing and experiencing a huge city like that was intense. I lived outside of Taipei(which is the capital of Taiwan)and Taipei is a fairly big city, but Beijing is like no other. It could be overwhelming at times, yet you could walk down a small alley and not hear the sound of the city and forget all about it for a minute. Back to the football game though.
As I sat there watching the sunset and looking at the crowd and the field and breathing in the crisp clean air I thought about what I had just come from not quite a week ago. That I really do take it for granted, the wide open spaces. The clean air, the trees and the fact that we really don't have traffic compared to theirs. I think I felt some culture shock coming back from China and again I know I was there for a short time but it's so intense and so different that it really effected me. In a good way. I went to Germany when I was 17 almost 18. This was before the wall came down in Berlin. I went over with my high school to live for just 2 months, it was an exchange program. For one week of the trip went took a train to Berlin. One of those days we spent in East Berlin. I will never forget the way it looked or the feeling it evoked. It was drab, grey and depressing. We met with a group of LDS teenagers in one of their homes. That part of the day was the best part. We had to meet in a home because they were not allowed to practice their/our faith. They had so many questions about America and about being LDS teens in America. When we left I remember all of us (about 19) gave them our left over money. The money you change from West Berlin money into East Berlin money has to be spent, you can't take it back across the boarder.I remember it only being a small amount that we gave them but they were so appreciative. The reason I write about this is because I think a part of me thought that China was going to look and feel like East Berlin did. Drab, sad, depressing, stifling. I was happy to see that it was clean, people are happy, they are active,and so friendly. I know that life isn't the best there for everyone. The majority of the people are poor. They seem to have something though that makes them smile all the time. Maybe they have an inner hope that those of us that haven't had to struggle like they have,have. Maybe it's years of determination,and trying to make the best of what they have. I loved that people were outside a lot. The older people, like grandparents were out a lot with their grandkids. They seem to take care of the grandkids quite a bit. They had them at parks, at the stores, walking around sites. People seemed to be enjoying what they have and using it as much as they could. I saw sadness and felt it. Yet I left being surprised more by the happiness that I saw and came home being extremely grateful for all that I have. Wide open spaces, clean air, safe neighborhoods,good schools, our church and our friends here. Most importantly my family who brings me happiness and gives me that inner hope.