Yang Mei Xue
Sponsors, Sam and Debbie McLean, recently traveled with their close friends and neighbors, Greg, Mary, Lane, and Beth Bruce. Sam is a pilot for American Airlines and Greg is a pilot for Alaska Airlines. The McLeans and the Bruces visited the Great Wall and other tourist activities during their trip. Lane and Beth are adopted Chinese girls who have been part of the Bruce family since they were young.
Jumping Rope with Mei Xue’s relatives
One of Sam’s favorite little “angels,” Shi Xin Rong, a little girl who lives in the care center, came out to greet him. She had grown so much but was still as adorable as ever! She remembered Sam but her English is not advanced enough to do much talking. Both families entered the dining area where they were served some tasty food. A few minutes later, Mei Xue arrived and they were delighted to be reunited with her again. Sam said she looked so healthy and happy. (Several years ago Mei Xue came to the U.S. for heart surgery and she met Sam, her pilot, on her return flight back to China. Sam and Debbie have both visited Mei Xue on trips to China.)
During the dinner conversation, Mei Xue invited all of the guests to travel to her village the next day. Sam had not expected this but had always wanted to travel there to meet her grandmother. Peter arranged a driver and passenger van for the five hour drive (each direction) for the next day.
The next morning, two cars and drivers arrived-one a newer model, air-conditioned 4X4 SUV, and the other, a mini-van with none of the creature comforts. The Bruce’s loaded into the SUV while Mei Xue, Debbie and Sam rode in the van. Sam sat in a fold up jump-seat which was terribly uncomfortable but it was next to a window that he could roll open for a breeze along the rough journey. It was a long, and at times, gorgeous drive. They stopped a few times to stretch and for breakfast. They arrived around 1:00 pm into Mei Xue’s village. Upon arrival, she got out of the van and ran down the path to what they thought must be her home. As it turned out, it was the home of one of her “Aunties.” They had been expecting their arrival and after Mei Xue checked in, she came out and beckoned for everyone to come down. Sam led the way and met some of her cousins and her auntie. They speak a Miao tribal dialect and Sam did not think they could speak Mandarin. There was an unusual spoken communication going on but it was not a problem! Everyone was introduced and it was obvious that they were happy about these guests and ready to host them.
Her family is not wealthy. Their home is open air but has electricity. They have very little refrigeration and only a singular screw-in compact fluorescent light bulb in one room. The living area is upstairs and livestock (one cow) lives downstairs. All-in-all, there were about 25 people there including both families, the drivers, Mei Xue, and her family. They met her beloved grandmother and her grandmother’s sister. They met aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
They prepared a feast for everyone-at least by their standards. This was a very big deal and Sam was so happy to be there. This was probably a very, VERY rare occasion. Her aunties cooked up several dishes including two freshly harvested carp from the rice pond. They tasted the best!! Everyone ate and had a very nice time.
After eating, Sam joined the children for a game of Chinese jump rope and it was a lot of fun. Then they were invited across the village to Mei Xue’s grandmother’s house. The house was similar in concept to the aunt’s house – made of wood, no protection from the heat or cold other than the open fire pit on the floor of the inside space. It was very dark inside and only a singular dim light bulb provided illumination. Outside on the covered deck, they enjoyed fellowship and Debbie had offered her spare eyeglasses to the grandmother’s sister because they were corrective lens for close work. She was thrilled to be able to see well enough to do her needlework again! Also Debbie gave her nice earrings as a gift.
Around 3:30 everyone said goodbye as well as Mei Xue. They returned to the care center just after dark and Sam said the ride felt like he had been riding a jackhammer all day. Thankfully, some Aleve seemed to help with the aches and pains.
Sam, Mei Xue’s relatives, Debbie and Mei Xue
Food prepared for the special visitors from the U.S.
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