Have you ever stopped to think about the nicest things people have ever done for you? Depending on the circumstances it doesn't even have to be something amazing to have made a big impact on you.
I'm thinking about this subject because last week at our semiannual regional church meeting, we ran into a friend we hadn't seen in years. The last time we saw him was in Beirut, Lebanon, back in 2005. He has since moved to Dubai. When I saw him again last week, I remembered how he was part of a tapestry of kindness shown to us every time we visited Beirut. Let me tell you about it.
But somehow we started meeting people. Members of the congregation introduced themselves to us and made us feel welcome. At the end of the meeting, a few women who I had met only an hour or two before invited us to stay after to share the lunch they had brought. One of them worked as a domestic helper, and she had brought to church the plentiful leftovers from a party at her employer's house the night before. She heated up the food in the church building's small kitchen and we all ate together. I can still taste that food, not because it was extraordinarily delicious but because I remember thinking at the time that it was so uncommonly generous for those women to volunteer to share their windfall of gourmet food with two strangers at church. We finished eating, then we went on our way.
But it was not a lonely way because another person at church (the man we saw last week in Dubai) had invited us to stay at his house. So we headed home with him.
And that's not even all, because still other members of the congregation had invited us to meet them for ice cream that evening. So the new friend whose house we were staying at drove us to (and joined us at) that outing. We got to know a few more fellow Mormons and spent the time laughing and talking like the old friends we absolutely weren't.
We went to Beirut a few more times and it was always more of the same: people being dang nice to us. One family (hi Matthew) invited us over to their house after church for lunch and good company. I can still taste that food, too.
We continued to stay at our new friend's house every time we went to Beirut because he insisted. We ate his food and watched his movies and totally intruded unexpectedly on his life every once in a while but it was no big deal. And what I will always remember is that he took us shopping at Carrefour (for the first time), where I found some tortilla chips and other sundry pregnancy cravings that were not available in Syria at the time.
These people reached out to us and took care of us for no other reason than because...I'm not sure. We were strangers in Beirut who needed help? We were fellow Mormons? We were fresh blood in a sometimes lonely society? Whatever their reasons were, each act of kindness really touched my heart. Obviously I haven't forgotten these small, generous gestures of welcome and support from a few (former) strangers in Beirut.
What small, seemingly insignificant acts of kindness do you still remember?