Saturday, November 6, 2010

Be good and kind and sweet to everyone you meet

It would be impossible for me to comment on each experience I had in West Pokot. I experienced a new way of life with new people and from that have many stories to tell. 

My dad who is a pastor in New York City (and I would consider a pretty darn good preacher) says that pastors keep an index of “sermon stories” that they remember and are able to plug in when necessary. Now, I am NOT saying that I will become a pastor but I think I am developing that index and a lot of it came from my past week in West Pokot. There is one story I would like to share with you, however. My second day in West Pokot I waited outside of the Zion waiting to be called for lunch, I was  strolling around by the school next to the church and saw a group of children about ages 5-10 in yellow and green jumpers and shorts, their school uniforms. I started making my way towards them, smiling, as I walked towards them, they stood motionless then when I started to come within ten feet they grouped themselves together holding on to each other, honestly scared of me. A few started pointing at me with their mouths agape, a few laughed and a few clung to their peers in fear. I smiled and waved greeting them in Kiswahili. During my awkward interaction with the school children my friend Simon came up towards me and started speaking much clearer Kiswahili to the children. I finally was able to break through the 10 foot barrier and extended my hand to the children to which they slowly and reluctantly one by one came to shake my hand. Once one shook my hand they ran away to whisper in their friends ear.

After I shook hands with all the children I pulled my camera out of my back pocket where it was stored for easy access (the perks of working in communications). I showed them the camera as a way of asking, “would you like me to take a picture?” I took a picture of the children hiding behind the cactuses and then put the picture on display mode to show the children the picture I took of them. As I showed them the picture they squealed, jumping, pointing, laughing and smiling in preparation for their next shot. I proceeded to take many many more pictures and the children came closer to me, hugging my legs and holding my hands as I got in a few pictures with them. After several minutes their teacher came out and told them they needed to continue walking home before it became dark. Simon looked at me and said “do you see how happy you made them?”

My point in telling you this isn’t to serve as a caption to my pictures and isn't to show you what a good person I am (because that is not what I am saying).

I thought about what Simon said, how happy the children were, and they were happy! I didn’t do anything- I didn’t bring school books, I didn’t teach a class, I didn’t come with medicine or school fees, I didn’t bring anything and I didn’t do anything- I showed a little kindness, I offered my hand for a handshake and greeted the children happily.

I wonder what would happen if we could all show a little kindness to the people we see, a smile, a greeting, a “how are you?” a handshake. I think of how I walk the streets of New York often purposefully walking on the other side of the street of a homeless person to avoid not giving them money. Rather than walking on the other side of the street what if we all walked on the same side of the street and offered a smile instead? Not a dollar, but a smile.

I changed my quote on Skype a few weeks ago to a quote from Mother Theresa that I think applies perfectly “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can”

In a world where it often feels like the problems of the world are much greater than the impact we can have on them, what if we all just try to smile and show a little kindness? I wonder where a small act of kindness could take us? I know it won't solve the problems of the world, it probably won't stop wars or feed hungry children or pay school fees or eradicate HIV/AIDS but it will make someone happy if only for a minute.  My mother always told me ‘be good and kind and sweet to everyone you meet’ thats cute because it rhymes but think about what it means-so lets do that, not just to the people we meet in coffee hour, in school, in church, at fundraisers but to all the people we are sharing the world with. 

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