Friday, February 10, 2012

Acts of Kindness

It was a bathroom cleaning lady in the Beijing airport who brought me to tears by her act of kindness. I was worn out by a migraine on our trip back home and kept getting passed by people while I was standing behind the yellow line at the women’s bathroom. Women in a hurry overlooked the line (and me) and pushed ahead to find their own stall. A cleaning woman silently motioned to me and pointed out a stall that had just been cleaned for me to use. My eyes flooded with tears as I closed the stall door behind me. She had noticed me and she cared.

She was a worker whose identity in the airport was not by her name, but by a large number on the back of her uniform. Wow. Like in a concentration camp, I marveled. How would I feel to be a number? To work a thankless job cleaning bathrooms? To go unnoticed every day by thousands of preoccupied travelers? This woman (I wish I knew her name) showed kindness to me, and I thanked God for her. Help me to be more aware of cleaning ladies and to give them a smile and an encouraging word. Help me to notice and to care.

So many acts of kindness have been extended to me. I am humbled by these acts, and can understand in a deeper way the verse “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.” (Romans 2:4)

Gifts of western food at Christmastime that “we might be missing” from longtime friends in Beijing
Care packages from dear friends in Tianjin with some of our favorite Christmas cookies
The gift of a two night stay with Charly in a five star hotel
Friends who spoiled our kids (in a good way) while Charly and I were enjoying our extended date
The provision of round trip train tickets by the father and fiancé of a sweet friend so I could attend her wedding shower (and surprise her)
Back and neck massages from various people
Prayers for me and my health
A friend driving us to the Lanzhou airport (a very tight fit in his car with all of our luggage, but it worked!)
The provision of meals from friends while we were traveling
Granola bars in a care package from my Mom
Encouraging cards in the mail
Unexpected financial gifts that really helped on our trip
The use of an office with beds for us to stay while in Tianjin
A friend driving me home (out of her way) from a party so I wouldn’t have to find a taxi late at night
A friend driving us in his van to the airport shuttle bus station early in the morning and bringing us muffins (fresh from the oven) for breakfast
A text message from a friend to see how I was feeling and if we had made it home okay

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” (Leo Buscaglia)

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