A Vietnamese immigrant slept on a sack of sawdust for three years on the floor of an American bakery. The story goes that Le Van Vu was born and raised in North Vietnam where his family had become quite wealthy, owning about one-third of the real estate there. Sadly, his father was murdered and he and his mother moved to South Vietnam where Le went to school to become a lawyer. With the American presence expanding during the war, Le built up a successful construction business. Returning to the North on a trip, he was captured and jailed by the North Vietnamese for three years. Le managed to escape by killing five guards and returned to the South. The Southern Vietnamese, thinking he was a plant, put him in prison. Later he was freed and started a fishing business, becoming the largest canner in South Vietnam. When the Americans started pulling out of Vietnam, Le decided to go with them and exchanged all of his riches for safe passage to the Phillipines. Once again, he started over by developping the fishing industry there. Le's ultimate dream, though, was to immigrate to the United States, and he used his savings to purchase two boat tickets. On board a ship heading to the new land, Le became distraught, realizing that yet again he would have to start his life over. He was about to jump overboard when his wife talked him out of it, asking what would happen to her and pointing out that they could overcome any obstacle together. Le agreed and put aside any thoughts of ending his life. Arriving in America,the Vietnamese couple settled in Houston, Texas where they had relatives to help look after them. Le's cousin offered them jobs in his bakery which they accepted. However, they did not rent an apartment or a house for they had other plans. Le's cousin promised to sell them the bakery once they came up with a $30,000 down payment. Knowing that he would never be able to come up with such a hefty sum if he paid rent, Le and his wife slept on sawdust sacks in the back of the bakery for two years until they came up with the required sum. Le's cousin then lent them $90,000 to cover the remaining cost of the business. Rather than buying a home, they chose to spend another year on the bakery floor until they could pay off the loan. Finally, after three years of bathing in the public bathroom sink and of sleeping on the floor, Le and his wife owned the bakery free and clear and were able to get their first apartment. Although wealthy, the Van Vu's continue to live beneath their means, to use cash rather than credit and to save. Today, Le is a multi-millionaire.
*Taken from Chicken Soup for the Soul (Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen)
Photo courtesy http://www.royalbaybakery.com/