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In the Chinese culture, “gui ren” (貴人) are benefactors who have helped us at some point of our lives when we faced some challenges, or to lift us to greater heights. Here is a true story of a small Taiwanese confectionery shop when it faced closure.

Mochi is a glutinous rice confectionary often given as gifts. Mochi is found both in Japan and Taiwan (麻糬), and is a glutinous rice confectionery often eaten or given as gifts.

Mochi is not easy to make well, although the ingredients are basic and the most basic forms can be made easily. It is akin to saying everyone of us can buy a bread machine and with flour, water, yeast and some salt, can bake bread. And yet, our bread will be a far cry from the best bakers’ creations.

There is a small mochi shop in Taiwan run by a married couple. For a long time, they have struggled with their business, and many customers have found their Mochi to be of average or below average quality. They were quite close to closing their shop, when 3 Japanese tourists transformed their lives.

It happened one day when a Japanese tour group passed this Mochi shop. Since business was poor, the couple decided to give the Japanese tourists some Mochi. Some of the tourists were courteous and complimented the couple with “oishi”, which means “tasty” in Japanese. However, 3 of the tourists said the Mochi was not good at all.

Now, we cannot expect everyone to like us, or to appreciate our products and services, all the time. There will be naysayers and detractors. However, these 3 Japanese tourists were not merely naysayers. They became the benefactors of the couple.

The 3 Japanese tourists found a translator, and started to reveal a recipe for good Mochi and had it written in Chinese for the Taiwanese couple. The 3 Japanese tourists turned out to be veteran Mochi makers in Japan.

The couple could not believe their blessing that some people were willing to impart to them their trade secrets. With some hesitation, they put the recipe to work and in no time, their Mochi became one of the well-known Mochi in their locale. Their business turned around and they were able to be profitable, and even had to recall their successful son back to help with their shop.

The Taiwanese couple did not have the contacts of the 3 Japanese masters who became their benefactors. Instead of merely basking in their success, they decided to pay it forward, helping underprivileged communities whenever they can.

In life, we may come across benefactors who will go out of their ways to give us a hand. These true benefactors may demand nothing from us, and we go on in our journeys, enjoying the fruits of labor that bore fruit because these benefactors helped us. It is in our culture to thank them and show them our heartfelt appreciation. And should we enjoy blessings, remember that we can also pay it forward to benefit others.

As holy elders have said, lending a hand to others, however small a gesture, is often a greater blessing and joy to ourselves than anything else.