Thursday, January 5, 2017

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

        While I was in the hospital in Mwanza waiting to be seen, I was able to help an elderly woman who couldn’t pay for her medication.  It was only a few dollars.  It was nothing, but she told me, “God bless you.”  And I told her that it was too late, God had already blessed me by sending me to Africa.  As she went on her way, one of the nurses who had been standing nearby came and sat by me.  She told me a story that had happened to her.  One day, she felt terrible.  Her life was full of turmoil and problems.  She took a walk, hoping to clear her head.  She saw an old man sitting behind a pile of second-hand shoes waiting for someone to buy some.  He seemed so tired, and nobody was buying his shoes.  She wanted to give him something, but she hadn’t brought anything with her.  While she was watching, a little girl came up to the old man and said, “Babu (Swahili for grandfather, a term of respect), may I polish one of your shoes?  It will only cost 500 shillings (about twenty-five cents).” The old man took pity on her, smiled and he gave her a  shoe to polish.  The girl said, "I polish this shoe so I can get the money I need to buy my brother a new school uniform."  When the nurse heard this, her eyes began to fill with tears.   The old man answered, "Oh, misichana (small girl) stop your polishing. Come with me and I will buy your brother a uniform." Then they walked slowly to the market hand-in-hand with the nurse following a ways behind, and he bought the girl a new uniform for her brother including a brand new pair of shoes.  The total bill was around $5.00, but that was a lot of money for a seller of used shoes.  The girl was very happy.  She said, "Thank you so much for doing this. May God bless you." Then she left, leaving the old man with a smile on his wrinkled, old face.  He walked slowly away from the market, but the nurse stopped him. She whispered in his ear, "You are a hero! Thank you for your kindness!"  As she walked away, she glanced back and could see him still smiling.  She had indeed cleared her head of all her problems.  She had seen someone who had so little themselves show such incredible generosity!  Her own sadness had completely disappeared, chased away by the light of this kind act.  She told me that from that day on, she lived a new life hoping to show someone else the kindness she had seen.  She reached down and took my hand and squeezed it.  She said, “You have done the same thing to remind me that I have a new year coming to live doing kindness wherever I can.”  She stood, still holding my hand, and said, “God bless you as you have blessed me.”             We all have a new year ahead of us with many, many opportunities to show Christ’s love through little acts of kindness that cost little but could change someone’s life.  If your heart is in the right place, you will always have what you need to bring kindness to someone else.  If your heart is in the right place.  Is it?  If not, will you ask God to help you make it so?  The world will be a better place if you do.  My prayer for you is that you will hear someone else say, “God bless you” to you, and you will know that He already has.
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