• A Prayer For A Life Of Thankfulness

  • As we come to Thanksgiving 2020, I would like to share some stories that have meant much to me in the past and others that told me they have enjoyed.

    This Thanksgiving will be different than any other.

    Some have said, “If you have a big family Thanksgiving gathering, you can also have a big family Christmas funeral.”

    I hope that’s not true.

    It does emphasize being careful and these are unusual times. One of the national television news programs said that for Thanksgiving week of shows that they were going to have several immigrants take the oath of citizenship for the United States.

    The truth is as far as I am concerned; we are all immigrants, except for the American Indians.

    All of our ancestors either came on the boat, or rowed the boat, some came volunteering, others came forcibly kidnapped, some paid to come, others were paid for bringing them, but no matter we are all on the same boat now.

    Several years ago, three Soviet immigrants who spent their first Thanksgiving in the United States last year said they were thankful for their new freedom to worship and travel without harassment.

    Thanksgiving “is a very, very good holiday,” said Lyuba Vashchenko, one of the “Siberian Seven” Pentecostals who took refuge in the United States Embassy in Moscow for five years.

    Through numerous, continued efforts, especially from the United States, they were finally allowed to leave the Soviet Union.

    The majority of us who were born in the United States take our citizenship for granted.

    Where others are paying a high price to get what we got for free, and sometimes not that thankful for the gift.

    When naturalization ceremonies were held in Columbus, Ohio, for 53 new American citizens, they were told by former Iranian hostage Steve Lauterbach to appreciate their new status.

    “I am embarrassed,” he said, “to admit I tended to take the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship for granted until I was put in a situation that forced me to become aware of them,” Lauterbach said.

    The former hostage was invited to the group by Judge John Holschuch, a U. S. District judge at the time.

    A story that seems to bring it home to me is of two foster sons.

    They were taken in over 30 years ago and cared for as natural sons. Then, police say, Walter and Earl Scott repaid their foster parents by extorting the couple’s life savings-over $55,000-in the last two years of their foster parent’s life.

    The plot came to light, authorities said, when a suspicious bank employee notified police after the savings account of the elderly Bronx, N.Y., couple was all but drained.

    Police nabbed Walter, 37, and Earl, 36, at the home they still shared with the foster parents, aged 82 and 81.

    The Scotts, biological brothers, used “physical intimidation” to force the retired couple to make huge withdrawals from the bank. “Sometimes, they took the father to the bank and forced him to sign withdrawal slips,” the police sergeant said.

    Other times, they went on their own, signing his name.”

    Police said the brothers were 5 and 6 when they originally were taken into the home.

    They were tremendously blessed, yet they were unthankful for the kindness.

    How many of us have been truly blessed, but constantly complain about a number of things, some real and some imagine.

    It is said that a number of Americans did go out to vote, a responsibility of citizenship.

    It was said to be the highest turn out in history.

    Whether your candidate won or lost we should be thankful for living in America and having the privilege to vote.

    Working in his office in Minneapolis, Jess Lair, 35, collapsed with a heart attack.

    He had been driving for success-and succeeding-in a job he hated.

    While in the hospital, the stricken executive reviewed his life and decided, “From now on I am never again going to do something that I don’t deeply believe in.”

    Mr. Lair and his family shifted to simple living.

    He enrolled in graduate school and earned a PhD in psychology. Then the Lairs moved to Montana, where he found a teaching job at the state university.

    For his students, Jess Lair wrote the story of how his life was turned around.

    He called his book, “I Ain’t Much Baby-But I’m All I’ve Got.” It became a bestseller!

    It took a heart attack to get Jess Lair to evaluate and change his life.

    But things needn’t get that critical. Each day offers opportunities to choose to live life rather than to succumb to events.

    At least in some ways, the choice is ours-to live or exist, to be thankful or ungrateful.

    When a person knows that death is near and inevitable, one of the most common reactions is regret over something they did not do. A dying person told how hard he had worked to provide for his family.

    But because he was working so long and so hard, he never really had time to spend with them.

    Terminally ill, he said:

    “If I could go home once more, I would go fishing with my son. I always wanted to, but I never had time.”

    He did get a chance to go home again.

    When he came back to the hospital, just a few days before he died, he said:

    “I went fishing with my son. It was the best day in my whole life.”

    Don’t put off acts of love until it’s too late. It is my prayer you will be guided into a life of Thankfulness and a life that has avoided regrets. As we come closer to the end of 2020, we are hopeful to also come closer to the end of this COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s take time to learn the lesson from it and hopefully never repeat it.

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    Letters: We Need To Pray For The Success Of All Leaders

    Erie Times-News

    This is in reference to the Rev. John M. Scott and his viewpoint in the Oct. 15 edition of the Erie Times-News.

    We could cause all kinds of arguments on both sides, but I’ll just quote scripture. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1. This is in the New Testament. Let us pray for all of our leaders.

    — Rich Van Giesen, Edinboro

    Do the right thing and

    spay and neuter your pets

    Two tiny examples of human negligence were under my front porch as a result of a feral mom cat abandoning them. Two cold and almost lifeless little creatures, whose only fault was being brought into the world. The feral mom cat tried, however, she could not handle the helpless little ones. We tried to help her with food and by giving her privacy.

    However, she was not up to the challenge. When we realized she was not attending them, we checked and found only two in the makeshift nest under the porch. They were cold and just barely alive. We rushed them to the A.N.N.A. Shelter with fragile hope that they could be saved. The folks at A.N.N.A. did their best. However, the little souls succumbed as a result of the neglect.

    I am pleading to all those who have animals to do the responsible thing and have them neutered to prevent these types of occurrences. There are few greater cruelties than irresponsible pet ownership. The A.N.N.A. Shelter has programs for spay-neuter and release of feral cats.

    They do a tremendous service to our region. Do the right thing. We plan on trapping mom cat and having her spayed, so she can continue what is left of her life unencumbered by unwanted little ones who have a terrible outlook at best.

    — Frank E. Mehler Jr., North East

    Nursing homes can best care

    for their COVID patients

    My question to David Rogers, and all the other people who are criticizing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other leaders for sending COVID-19 patients back to nursing homes. Where are these people supposed to go? Home is the nursing home. If you live in a nursing home and you go to the hospital, when you are released, you go home.

    People act like these people had numerous options on where they could go live. Here is a reminder: People in nursing homes are most likely there because they have no one else who is equipped to take care of them in a home setting.

    When my mother was diagnosed as COVID positive, the hospital sent her to my house. That is the tragedy. No one asked me if I had what it took to take care of her. No one informed me that she was bedridden or asked if I needed any resources to help care for her. There was no way that I could take care of her in the manner that she deserved.

    I could not bathe her, take care of her bathroom needs, get her to take her medicine and monitor her health 24 hours a day. A nursing home is equipped to do that. I am so grateful that LECOM Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was prepared to take my mother.

    I am not sure why people are not outraged that a medical facility like nursing homes could not keep the spread from happening, instead of being upset that Cuomo or whomever "sent" them back there. LECOM managed to be prepared.

    — Debbi Tarasovitch, Erie

    Lawmakers must support

    biopharmaceutical research

    I know the importance of preserving biopharmaceutical innovation. As the president of an organization that's primary purpose is to care for the elderly, new and affordable medications are a top priority. We offer primary and specialty care services in geriatric medicine. Many of our patients have at least one preexisting condition or are immune-compromised, meaning the COVID-19 pandemic has posed extreme dangers to their health. But with expanded research and additional means to pursue biopharmaceutical innovation, COVID-19 and their preexisting conditions could be better treated and cured.

    That’s why it’s so important that our legislators prioritize policies that will work to the biopharmaceutical industry’s success. Now, more than ever, so many Americans are suffering, and all are at threat of an incurable virus, particularly our nation’s senior population. To them, a vaccine could make the difference between a safe and happy retirement and one continually compromised by the ongoing pandemic.

    I strongly encourage Pennsylvania’s lawmakers to work to develop policies that help innovation. In doing so, they can better uplift the scientists around the country who are working around the clock to cure COVID-19, giving them the best odds to develop a vaccine that would work to benefit all of America's seniors.

    — James Lin, president, LECOM Institute for Successful Aging, Erie

    Firecrackers And Prayers As Indians Celebrate Harris' Win

    THULASENDRAPURAM, India (AP) — Waking up to the news of Kamala Harris’ election as U.S. Vice president, overjoyed people in her Indian grandfather’s hometown set off firecrackers and offered prayers on Sunday.

    Groups gathered at street corners in Thulasendrapuram, a tiny village of 350 people, reading newspapers and chatting about Joe Biden and Harris' victory before moving to a temple.

    A woman wrote in color powder outside her home: “Congratulations Kamala Harris. Pride of our village. Vanakkam (Greetings) America.”

    Most of them had gone to sleep by the time Biden clinched the winning threshold of 270 Electoral College votes, making Harris the first woman and the first person of South Asian descent to be elected vice president.

    “For two or three days we kept our fingers crossed while the result was delayed,” said village resident Kalidas Vamdayar. “Now it’s a joyful moment for us. We are enjoying it.”

    “We will celebrate with firecrackers, distributing Indian sweets to people and praying in the temple,” Vamdayar said. "We will request her to come here. She would have heard our voice and she may come.”

    Tamil Nadu state Food Minister R. Kamraj led about 100 people at the Dharma Sastha temple for a 20-minute prayer during which the idol of Hindu deity Ayyanar, a form of Lord Shiva, was washed with milk and decked with flowers by the priest. He chanted hymns after lighting oil lamps, and the villagers bowed their heads in respect.

    “Kamala Harris is the daughter of our village," said Aulmozhi Sudhakar, a village councilor. “From children to senior citizens, each one of us is awaiting the day she will take the oath as the vice president of the U.S.”

    There was more singing, dancing and firecrackers throughout the day in the village, where cutouts and posters wishing Harris a “grand success” adorned walls.

    People congregated in groups of 30-40 exchanging sweets, delicacies and snacks at different spots. They seemed to be celebrating Diwali, the most popular Hindu festival of lights, a week ahead of time.

    Story continues

    Young children carrying placards with photos of Harris ran around the village.

    Several politicians from nearby districts visited the village with their supporters, meeting local residents and visiting the temple. Musicians played wind and string instruments with cymbals and drums.

    J. Sudhakar, who organized prayers on Election Day, expressed his wish that Harris will visit. As Americans voted, around 50 residents, with folded hands, lined up in the temple that reverberated with the sound of ringing bells, and a Hindu priest gave them sweets and flowers as a religious offering.

    Women in the village, which is located 350 kilometers (215 miles) from the southern coastal city of Chennai, used bright colors to write “We Wish Kamala Harris Wins” on the ground, alongside a thumbs-up sign.

    The lush green village is the hometown of Harris’ maternal grandfather, who had moved to Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, decades ago.

    Inside the temple where people have been holding special prayers, Harris’ name is sculpted into a stone that lists public donations made to the temple in 2014, along with that of her grandfather who gave money decades ago.

    Harris’ late mother also was born in India, before moving to the U.S. At the age of 19 to study at the University of California. She married a Jamaican man, and they named their daughter Kamala, Sanskrit for “lotus flower.”

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Harris’ success as pathbreaking, and a matter of immense pride not just for her relatives but also for all Indian-Americans. "I am confident that the vibrant India-US ties will get even stronger with your support and leadership,” he tweeted.

    There has been both excitement — and some concern — over Biden’s choice of Harris as his running mate.

    Modi had invested in President Donald Trump, who visited India in February. Modi's many Hindu nationalist supporters also were upset with Harris when she expressed concern about Kashmir, the disputed Muslim-majority region whose statehood India’s government revoked last year.

    Harris stood by U.S. Rep Pramila Jayapal, a Washington state congresswoman of Indian origin, when Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar refused to attend a meeting in the United States over her participation last year. Jayapal had earlier moved a resolution on the Kashmir issue critical of India in the House of Representatives.

    Rights groups accuse India of human rights violations in Indian-controlled Kashmir, where insurgent groups have been fighting since 1989 for independence or merger with the portion of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan.


    This story has been corrected to show that Harris' maternal grandfather had moved to Chennai, not the U.S.

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