Experience Number One
About a month ago, President and I were working with Elder Li and Elder Van Rij in Deventer. We spent time finding and teaching. After deciding to leave one neighborhood, we were walking back to the car. I had put my 'stuff' in the back and gotten into the car when I realize that President, Elder Li and Elder Van Rij had seen a family across the parking lot and gone over to talk with them about the church. Most of the day we were turned down pretty fast, so I didn't go over thinking that this too would be a fast turn down. I waited in the car with the door open and as I watched, I realized the father was interested and was visiting with the Elders as the mother packed flats of flowers into the house. They had a seven year old boy who started to talk to President. I could hear the boy trying to sound out and read President's name badge. President then told the little boy that I was a teacher and I helped children learn to read. He looks over at me and smiled and waved. I thought that was the cutest thing ever. His mother was back for another trip to haul flowers to the house and she handed the little boy a potted plant and pointed at me. With the pot of pansies in his hands, and a great big smile, he walked right over to me and in his best English said, "This is for you!" I was so touched on so many levels. One, he bravely walked over to a complete stranger and gave me the flowers; two, he used his best English to greet me, so I used my best Dutch to thank him; three, he had a smile on his face the whole time! and four, his parents were teaching him such profoundly good lessons on how to treat others.
I learned a new word that day, vriendlijk.
I told him he was kind--Jij bent vriendlijk.
His mother and President walked over right behind him, and I was so pleased to thank his mother for the flowers and thank her for the wonderful mother she is to teach her son such a important lesson of life.
So, in my kitchen window sits the little pot of lavender pansies. Every morning I am reminded of the goodness of total strangers.
(Yes, the family wanted the Elders to come by and see them!)
Experience Number Two
Last week, President and I were having a quiet evening at home (about the one and only so far) when the doorbell rang. We answered it and in walked about seven young women--about Beehive or Mia Maid age. One young woman had been designated as the spokesperson. So, in her great English, she began telling us they were selling cupcakes to raise money for a little boy who lives in #1 (we live in #11) on our street who has a rare cancer and he needs to go to American with one parent to receive special treatment, which costs a lot of money. We bought all they had left, but wish there had been more to buy. President made a fuss over her English, and the other young women started using some of their English. We were all speaking either Dutch or English before they left. I was profoundly touched that these kind young women were making a difference in our neighborhood. Their parents were supporting them in learning lessons on how to treat others in need of compassion. The cupcakes were as delicious as they were beautiful.
I learned an important lesson-again. Note to self--be even more kind to total strangers; it makes a huge impression!
The kindness of strangers--
'Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' Matthew 25: 40