Mrs. Mary Hida and I met a short time ago. To say that I feel very blessed to spend time with this remarkable, interesting and loving woman is an understatement. I was fascinated as Mary shared many things from her life and when she told me she met Mother Teresa, I ask if I could share her story. Thankfully, Mary happily agreed:-) Please enjoy her wonderful story, written on October 3, 2016. More about Mary can be found on the Contributors drop down page located beneath the Stories tab. Cynthia De Boer
August 26th was Mother Teresa’s birthday; she was born in 1910. In a sense, she helped change my life. That was in March of 1973. You may wonder how I ended up in India. As a child, I had grown up in Japan, where my parents served as Christian missionaries. By the time I was 23 I had returned to the US and was working for the Japanese Consulate, in Portland, Oregon, meeting people from all over the world. One of the people I met was a freelance journalist, who, in six months of meeting regularly, taught me how I, too, could travel, as she had.
I visited the local library often and read through the latest National Geographic magazines as I planned out my journey. When I felt I had saved up enough money, I quit my job and bought a one-way plane ticket to Calcutta, India, with plans to make multiple stops along the way, which I did. I spent eight months in Japan and traveled extensively while teaching English and saving more money. My desire was to come to know the hearts of the people in Asia. My two years of travels took me to the far corners of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma, India, and Nepal. By the time I reached India my heart had been deeply touched.
I arrived in Calcutta, India, from Burma in March of 1973; and had the fortune of staying in the beautiful childhood home of Rabindranath Tagore (Nobel Peace Prize in Literature, 1913). My hostess was Mrs. Singh, the widow of a prominent businessman and of the Bahai faith. At breakfast that morning, after hearing how I had been crying and praying all night from the shock of the reality of the poverty I had just witnessed, she asked if I would like to join her in her philanthropic work in the slums later that morning.
We visited several families, in their one room huts, and as we were returning, in a man-drawn rickshaw, she mentioned about the long line of people with tin bowls. As we approached closer she pointed out a little lady in a white sari, standing next to a huge vat of porridge. “That is Mother Teresa” she told me as we walked closer. Mrs. Singh introduced me and although that was the closest direct contact I had with Mother Teresa, it was a turning point in my life. Working for a short time in her Home For The Dying, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalighat_Home_for_the_Dying), it was then that I promised God that I would “live my life for the sake of OTHERS.” She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize six years later. Whenever I see her picture or read her quotes I feel so close to her and my heart beams. I feel fortunate and am so grateful for her example. Happy 106th birthday, Mother Teresa!!