Friday, July 28, 2017
“Random acts of kindness, however small they may be, will transform the world.” ― Amit Ray
I have long been an advocate of random acts of kindness, and I practiced what I preached. When we lived in the United States, at the drive-thru window at McDonald’s, I would frequently ask what the bill was for the car behind me. If it wasn’t too much (which was almost always the case), I would pay it for them and tell the server simply to tell them God bought their meal—and then I would drive quickly away. I used to pay the toll for the car or cars behind me on the drive to Tulsa, never checking to see the reaction of the people who got a free trip that day. I’ve been doing it here in Africa, too. I was standing in line to pay for my medication at the local hospital when I saw that the man in front of me couldn’t pay for his daughter’s medication. I asked how much and was told 5,000 Tsh which is about $2.50. I paid for the medication and started to walk away. The man rushed up to me and said, “Mungu aka bairiki!” or “God bless you.” I told the man he was too late, God had already blessed me by giving me the money to pay for the medication. Over the years, I’ve been happy to see that Shaban and others of our workers have started to do the same thing. I used to pay for diesel and say "Keep the change" and Shaban would scold me. Now, Shaban says "Keep the change." Kindness is catching. Most random acts of kindness seldom result in you knowing what effect your kindness had on the lives of those who received it. Yesterday, my phone emitted the audible chirp that told me I had gotten an email. I read it and smiled for the rest of the day. Have a little patience and you’ll find out why.
A while back you may have read in the blog that I had to go to Mwanza twice in one week to have a tooth pulled (June 12th and 14th). Now, I am not a fan of dentist visits. I used to have to have serious medication just to make an appointment and would get nitrous oxide in the waiting room or I’d never make it back to the chair. I’m better now, but still would prefer not to have to go. I was prepared to have to pay quite a bit for my treatment in Mwanza even though it was a missionary-run dental clinic. I had brought about $100 to pay for the day’s work there, but they only charged me about a third of that. That was also the case when I went back two days later, so, before I left, each time I paid them what I had brought with me and not what they had charged. It was hardly a huge sum. At first, they didn’t know what to do with the extra money, so I said that the next time someone comes in who needs help and can’t pay—use the money I overpaid to cover their costs. I left without a tooth and in some pain, hoping never to have to go back. I quickly forgot about it as my son, his wife, and my sister were coming soon to visit. We had a great visit with them, and they went back to the U.S. around the middle of July. So, I was pleasantly surprised to get an email today from the Hope Dental Clinic. They wanted to use the story of my small gift and how it had helped two young boys in their clinic in their newsletter and asked for my permission to print it. Of course, I gave it. Here’s just one story (they also included pictures) exactly as I received it:
"A young man named Joel Joseph, age 11 years and his Mama had walked four miles to get to our clinic to see about the boy’s toothache. They only had $5.00 which was not enough even for the consultation. They were ready to walk the four miles back home when we remembered your gift. We were able to do x-rays and extract the bad tooth. We were also able to give them some simple dental supplies to keep his teeth in good shape. They left quite happy thanks to your kindness."
What can I say? Kindness always wins even if you never know about the changes a simple act can bring. Just keep dropping the pebbles in the lake and let the ripples reach shores you can’t even see. When I told my son John about the email, he said that we were just Christian Johnny Appleseeds, dropping seeds of kindness everywhere we go. You can too, you know.