– By Diane G. Robertson
I. The Storm
I visited the United States with the thrill for adventure and anxious to witness what all the commotion was surrounding Halloween. It was not more than a few days into my visit when I realized that what was entitled; Hurricane Sandy was heading my way.
As I was not used to these sorts of foreboding circumstances, on vacation no less, I began to be extremely concerned. What was I to do? As it became closer to the event of the storm, no matter how much hotel staff educated me and answered my questions, their responses brought no solace. I still felt lost.
On the Sunday before the hurricane was due to arrive; I stumbled into a church not too far from my hotel. The welcome was unexplainable but comforting and warm. It was as if I visited an old friend whose genuine concern calmed my soul. One young woman in particular observed, what I describe; my awkward “newness” and was drawn to me. She offered to help me, answered my several concerns and graciously took me to the grocery store to acquire whatever treats and other accessories I needed.
I was overwhelmed with her kindness and by the time I returned to my hotel room, I felt more at peace and more prepared to withstand the monstrosity that was being described as Hurricane Sandy.
II. Stepping Out
I was recently told a story by a young woman who decided to take matters “into her own hands” and quit her full time and secure Government job. She was “stepping out in faith”, she said. Her job although appreciated was beginning to stifle her creativity and what she believed she had been called to do. Therefore she resigned and boldly stepped out into a new and different circumstance that she had no real idea how she was going to navigate.
She quickly made an inventory of her talents and those things she longed to do, if only she could. She did research, sought wise counsel from friends, mentors, and her friend’s mentors, about how she could turn her passion into a money making venture. This young woman was certainly diligently in her approach. Yet despite good planning and appropriate application, the young woman began struggling to meet her financial needs. The business was not gaining momentum just yet. As a result, she began to worry. The concern consumed her.
One day a good friend, of this young lady, just happened to be checking in on her. She was a pound woman and didn’t broadcast her troubles.
However, after hearing her plight, the friend instantly jumped into action. She asked the woman to share her list of bills and expenses and together they worked on an elaborate plan to get them paid including the friend offering and following through with as many payments as she could.
The young woman began to become extremely relived and less stressed. She was now able to more clearly foresee a plan to work toward her goal without additional mental strain. She would work hard within the period of grace her friend had provided. This woman did go on to be successful creating decorative pieces and greeting cards. She was able to abundantly sustain herself and repay her friend.
III. It’s Awkward to Start
Too often we get caught up with our own lives that we don’t pause to look around to identify where there may be a need. Some needs are extraordinary but some are simple and only require a little bit of time.
One a young woman was walking among the shops in search of a snazzy outfit to impress later on, at a soirée. She attentively went from shop to shop intent on accomplishing the vision and image she had set out for herself.
While in one of the stores, as she concentrated on the array of dress selections, she overheard a woman speaking loudly in an alien language. Although not fluent, she recognized the language. It was Spanish. It appeared that there was a foreign visitor who had come into the shop and having difficulty communicating with the store clerk. From what she could identify, the young woman realized that this tourist was asking the store clerk to make change from the money bills that she had acquired. The store clerk also began to seem to becoming increasingly frustrated. The young woman decided to take a chance with her small knowledge of Spanish and jumped in to help both women come to a solution.
After a slow and awkward start, the young woman was eventually able to convey to the store clerk exactly what the visitor needed. Once the visitor received the help she was seeking, she overwhelming thanked the young woman who rescued her. She urgently needed the funds to obtain transportation to obtain a child-member of her traveling party whom they realized they had lost at a previous location.
IV. Pausing to Notice
Twenty-four old Loni, a recent university graduate, routinely packs much into her schedule with the plans to be hugely successful. This sometimes prevents her from stopping to appreciate the little things in life. One day while busily rushing from place to place to satisfy work demands and then beneficial extra-curricular activities, Loni set out to take the rails. While traveling, she noticed a young woman with a small child sobbing in her chair. Loni quickly decided that this was none of her business and began reading a book. However, the visual haunted her and she contemplated how she could help the woman. She decided to say a quick prayer and slowly motioned over to the woman. Loni chose her words carefully and asked the woman directly; “How can I help you?” The woman then responded; “Simply pray. I am a recent widow, the victim of cancer. I knew my husband would go eventually when I married him. Thankfully, he lasted long enough to see his daughter born.”
Loni froze at hearing this story. Her head dipped and her chain touched her chest. She slowly turned to the woman and said; “I will pray for sure. God be with you and your little Girl.”
Loni confesses that this experience has changed her life tremendously. Now amidst her plans to advance her life, she looks for ways to serve others.
V. Love Beyond Belief
There once was a single woman who although raised to follow the principles of the church and sheltered by her parents, decided when she got to University, to explore a world outside the one she knew. As a result, she adopted a different lifestyle and became pregnant. The months before the baby came, was filled with emotional upheaval and mental anguish. Amidst being unsure of the commitment of the child’s father, she also struggled with thoughts of uncertainty about the future –about remaining in school or working full-time? What would her family’s reaction be?
On learning about their daughter’s pregnancy, the woman’s parents were shocked! After overcoming their initial grave disappointment, they took their daughter in assuring her that “everything will be okay”. This act of kindness opened this young girl’s eyes to genuine love and forgiveness.
After the child was born – and grew to about 3 years old – the young lady returned to colleague where she immediately joined up with a on campus Christian organization and educated high school and university women about the importance of not rushing into to decisions that can yield untimely circumstances.
VI. Going Beyond the Need
Every evening walking from work to her vehicle, 29 year old Darla noticed that the same middle-aged woman – camped out in front of the building once over from her work-place – asked her for money to buy something to eat, claiming she was very ill and without shelter. Darla responded to every request, doling out $2 here or $5 there. However she began to ponder on the situation and realized that the woman’s situation was not changing as much as she offered her money. So one day Darla decided to speak with the woman. She inquired about more of her story to learn how she can better assist her.
Therefore after speaking with the woman in need, Darla did some research and contacted an organization that helped house and feed individuals. This woman’s situation was also unique due to her medical needs. Still Darla persevered in collaborating with more than one appropriate agency to ensure that this woman was provided with the elements she needed to have a better quality of life.
Two months later, and after conducting periodical checks on the woman, Darla was inspired to visit a church connected to one of the agencies working with the former homeless woman. After attending her first service, Darla began to grow close to, who was now her friend Marlene.
VII. Plans On Hold
Thirty year old Darlene routinely walks briskly into her apartment building, checks the mail boxes in the lobby for new mail and bolts up to her residence. On one Friday evening, after collecting her correspondence, and just as she began to race to her apartment – to get ready for an evening out with “the girls” no less – she noticed one of the building residence she was familiar with sitting silently in the building’s foyer looking quite despondent.
Darlene looked at her watch. She only had 45 minutes to prepare prior to heading back out for a fun time with friends and it ordinarily took her 1 hour to be dressed. However she paused looked at her neighbor and said; “Anna, is everything okay?” Anna looked up slowly with a kind half-smile; “It’s my mother. She is ill.” Darlene then proceeded to sit next to Anna and let her tell her story.
When their conversation was over an hour had past but Anna relieved to get the information “off her chest” seemed brighter. Darlene then contacted her friends to let them know that her plans had changed and treated Anna to dinner instead.
Darlene later learned that, that evening gave Anna a renewed confidence to endure her mother’s illness who after some time with surgery and recovery improved remarkably.
VIII. Add Hers to Mine
Standing in line at the grocery store, there was an elderly woman in front of me who struggled to get a handle on her cash. She kept looking at the cashier’s screen and looking back at her wallet. She counted, and added but could not come up sufficient funds to pay for all her food items. As the senior began to ask the cashier to deduct items from her account, I felt badly for her and considered be of some assistance. I then piped up and said; “Please add the balance of her tab to mine”.
The woman raised her head toward me in amazement. Before she could get any words out, I uttered with a smile on my face; “It is my pleasure”.
IX. Beyond The Boundaries of Color
Often times individuals from varying ethnicities wonder how the other would perceive, as well as receive them and tend to be comfortable in their own and separate circles. However, one day while traveling the rail I witnessed an older fair-skinned man – between 45-50 – struggling to keep his briefcase and its contents in order. As papers from his bag began to collide with the floor, a dark-skinned young individual, about 21 to 25 was the first to rush to his aid.
Looking at the strange hands working together in unison with his the gentleman in need couldn’t help but smile appreciatively. When all was well and in one place, the two men gave each other a firm hand-shake and what seemed like a nod of understanding that human kindness had taken place.
X. My Pleasure
Traveling on the bus one day, June looked up from her intriguing book to notice a woman holding up the bus from moving forward. She got onto the bus but was short of change and the bus driver refused to move forward until she could pay the entire fare.
Bewildered by the bus driver’s lack of compassion – to not see that the woman was elderly and needy – June immediately sprang to her feet, scrambled to get her purse and stepped up to pay the woman’s bus fare.
The woman repeatedly thanked June and sprouted Blessings from God upon her. June humbly smiled and whispered; “My pleasure”.
XI. Going The Distance
Regina visited the gas station for her weekly “fill-up”. While there she was approached by a small shabbily dressed child. Beginning to retreat a bit, Regina spoke up; “Do you need something?” The child pointed to a car parked on the fringe of the gas station and explained that he, his Mother, and 2 siblings were camped out in the car homeless and in need of something to eat.
Regina was initially hesitant and skeptical. However, a small still voice within her compelled her to go with the young man to the car to talk with his Mum.
The interaction resulted in Regina accompanying the youngster to the nearby Fast Food eatery to purchase meals for the entire family.
The look of gratitude on the children’s – and the adult’s – faces warmed Regina’s heart greatly and all her skepticism melted away!