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A Simple Act of Kindness

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By Amy*

I backed my scooter out of the carport and prayed that it would start easily after sitting idle for three weeks. Thankfully it started right up so I didn't have to face the embarrassment of sitting by the side of the road trying to start it while the school children sauntered by. We had just returned from our visa trip and I needed to stock up on groceries again, so I headed to the market. I drove slowly and relished the cool morning air, but not the speed bumps in the alley that I tried to ease over. As I turned toward the market, my eyes drifted to the hill climbing steeply up from our town nestled in a valley. That view always takes my breath away. Then my eyes quickly came back down the hill to scan the road as I began to navigate the crush of people, motorbikes, vans, and minibuses that surround the market, the center of life here. I was eager to see the people that, in the last year, I have come to know and enjoy chatting with every couple of days. These beautiful people have been my teachers as they have helped me learn "These beautiful people have been my teachers as they have helped me learn more language, the names of various fruits, vegetables and spices, and have helped me learn more of the culture of my new home."more language, the names of various fruits, vegetables and spices, and have helped me learn more of the culture of my new home. It felt good to look forward to reconnecting with the people even as, at the same time, my nose was revolting at the smell of the rotting vegetables that is a part of the market experience. As I pulled my scooter into the "parking lot," I looked for the kind parking man who always helps me find a place even when it looks impossible to me. Instead a young guy came up to give me my parking tag. "Hmm, that's odd," I thought, "he's always here, except around lunch time when I've seen him take a break. Maybe it's his day off." So I went to order my usual flat of eggs and continued on to find the rest of the things on my list.

When we first arrived here, my neighbor took me around the market and introduced me to sellers, so I have gone back to many of them and have established a relationship with them. Just as I expected, they wanted to know where I had been and why I hadn't come by for so long and then when I explained we had to go to renew our visas, they wanted to know about that process. I headed to pick up my eggs with a happy and content heart. I greeted the egg seller and as he handed the carton to me he said, "He died. The man that parked the bikes just fell down." Now my language is not the best but I knew every word that he said, and yet it was like I was trying to fight the awful meaning of it and find a different one. "Yes," the lady in the next stall nodded, "four days ago he just dropped dead; the big guy. He wasn't even that old. They don't know why." My happy heart quickly changed to one of sadness as I tried to wrap my brain around this shocking news. The kind parking man who had directed me where to go when I wasn't sure of where to park, who had taught me how to balance the egg carton and my heavy bag of vegetables on my scooter and who had been a part of every market experience I had had in the last year. I had taught him how to say "chicken" in English just a few days before I left. And now he was gone, just like that. My heart was heavy as I expressed my sadness for the man's family and the market seller community, and then I headed back through the crush and over the bumpy road to my home.

In the weeks since, as I have tried to process why this man's death affected me so much, several things have come to mind but the one I want to share, is that your life matters to those around you. When we are in new situations like we were a year ago, we look for people to help us. There are strangers and people you have known for a long time that are blessed when you are there for them. It might feel to you that you are doing the same thing over and over but to someone it can provide that sense of security that they need in an otherwise overwhelming experience. My friend parked bikes day in and day out, fitting them in like pieces of a puzzle; it is a needed part of the market community. He helped me not to be afraid that I wouldn't be able to find a place to park and have to go somewhere else which can seem like an overwhelming task when you don't know the town and how things work in a new place. There are so many people who have welcomed us to this town and made us feel a part of the community over the past year and many of them will never know how grateful we are. My prayer is that many of them will know over the next years how much we do appreciate them as we are able to give back more and more to our community—physically, spiritually and through simple acts of kindness. So to help us celebrate our first year here and to remember the life of one man who showed kindness to me, will you show a simple act of kindness to someone today? Your community needs you!

Amy and Dave, with their three children, have lived in Southeast Asia since 2012. They live in a remote town, among an unreached people group, where Dave runs an eco-tourism business. Dave and Amy participated in REACH in '96 (Dave, Israel; Amy, Turkey) and '97 (Dave, Phoenix; Amy, Germany). From 1998-1999 Dave was on staff with SEND Ministries and during that same time Amy served as an intern with RMM in Bad Pyrmont, Germany. After they married in 2000, they moved into RMM's "Peace House" in Cincinnati, Ohio and ran the International Student Ministry there until 2004.

*For security reasons, country name, agency name, and last name have been omitted.