Showing Kindness

Yesterday, something happened that I have been dreading since we moved here… I got pulled over by the police. No, I wasn’t speeding or disobeying a traffic laws, but I was driving by a prison and they do routine stops. I have been fortunate up until now to not be stopped. The man had me roll my window down and started speaking Spanish, of course, because I live in a Spanish-speaking county…. sometimes I have to say that out loud to remind myself that I do know this fact.  I always assumed that I would turn to mush and forget how to speak if this happened but luckily I didn’t. I told him that I don’t speak a lot of Spanish so he started speaking to me in perfect English. I was shocked and grateful. He asked me for my license and fortunately I have a Costa Rica drivers license. I showed it to him and he very slowly walked all around my car, looked at all my stickers on the windshield (you have to have about a half a dozen different stickers on your windshield here to meet regulations) and then handed me my license back and with a smile told me to have a wonderful day.

I tell that story to say that I am much more appreciative when I’m shown kindness now. I could also tell stories of times that I have felt like I was walking around with no clothes on because everyone was staring at me or times that I really did turn to mush and couldn’t think of any words when I needed to speak to someone in Spanish because I felt very intimidated or “like i was sticking out like a sore thumb.” That actually happens a lot…. going to the grocery store, restaurants, the business office at school. Mostly places that only speak Spanish and it’s like a silent alarm goes off when I walk in the door. 

This experience living in another country has taught me many things but lately I’ve really been focusing on one… Showing kindness. I was brought up to be kind. My dad didn’t give me a lot of advice when I was growing up. One, because he was a very quiet man who didn’t say much but when he did say something we always listened. And two, because he showed us by example how to be. He always told us to be kind. And it wasn’t so much advice as a command. And what a simple command. If you are kind then others will see Jesus in you. 

There are so many times during the last year and a half that I have really been thankful for someone showing kindness. One of the first was at an office depot store right after we moved here. A woman heard me struggling at the desk to tell the lady what I needed done so she translated for me. Later she found me in the store to give me her phone number in case I needed her help again.  Turns out, she is the church secretary where we are attending now.  She did not have to show me scripture or invite me to church for me to see Jesus in her. ***On a sidenote, her number is still taped to my refrigerator. She wrote it on one of those little ‘take a number’ tickets that you get at a place when the line is really long.

I have many more stories like this but for now the police officer and the office depot lady can get my point across. I feel like now like my eyes are much more open to people who don’t always “fit.” I think of different times in my life where someone was visiting at Church or I saw someone confused in the grocery store. I will be much more quick to help these people. I think I’ve always let my “shyness” or just plain ignorance get in the way.  I’m also learning that you don’t have to speak the same language to communicate. There of been many times where I have seen kindness in strangers helping me find my way. 

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