By Guest Author Michael Bowen
It had been raining a lot in Hangzhou. So much that they postponed the highly-anticipated Sports Meeting at the last minute because of all the mud and general sogginess of our campus. Rain is inconvenient here at home because you have to get wet on the way from your door to the car, and if you drop the keys or if your hand slips on the car door handle, you’ll be in the rain an additional 8 to 10 seconds. In China, where I lived in 2009 and 2010, the rain is slightly more inconvenient because you have to get wet on your entire twenty minute walk to the market and another twenty minutes on the return trip.
And my umbrella was broken.
After a few experiences, however, I decided I wouldn’t get a new umbrella if it rained every day until I left. Why? Because when you come needy, the good people come to you.
Andy was one of my students. His English is very good, but he was relatively quiet in class, sitting in the back with some of his guy friends. He didn’t really stand out as someone I should pursue while I was there in China. But I remember that day when I was ready to step out into the rain after class and make the half-mile trek home. Andy popped out of nowhere and demanded that he escort me. So we walked and talked under his umbrella for the next fifteen minutes. Wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been needy.
Chen Shu was an art student at the university. She was studying vocal art, perfect mastery of the Chinese language so that she can be a newscaster or television spokesperson. She studied at my university, but not in my college. I would have never met this girl, except one day she noticed me walking behind her on the way back from the market.
She asked where I was going and pulled me under her umbrella. We introduced ourselves and talked for twenty minutes as she kept me dry all the way to my building on campus. Chen Shu said she was interested in coming to our English practice meetings, where we used a good book to learn English. I never would have met her if I owned an umbrella. If I hadn’t been needy.
A great man once sent out his followers saying, “Don’t take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; no bag for the journey or extra tunic or sandals or staff.”