Hello all! This last week I was extremely blessed with the opportunity to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana, to present with 9 other students at a International Bullying Prevention Conference. My group and I presented to a large number of faculty and teachers from around the world. We explained what our school does to prevent bullying and how we cultivate kindness throughout the entire student body.
To my peers, this trip was about the presentation. Sure, this is very valid, and I am extremely honored to have been able to talk about compassion and kindness. For myself, however, this trip was so much more than a presentation. I wanted to make a difference for Christ, and I believe that is exactly what I did.
At the beginning of our journey, we received a pack of post-it notes, three blank cards, and a Starbucks gift card. Our goal was to spread kindness wherever we went by giving these things to people we saw needed them. Throughout the trip, I left several notes reminding someone that God loves him or her with a deep, unquenchable fire.
Once in the airport, the group and I began to explore. I asked God to show me someone who was in desperate need of His love and some coffee. At this exact moment, a lady carrying four cups of coffee to her family tripped on her luggage and spilled everything all over the floor. We helped her clean up the spilled coffee and throw away the empty cups. We then gave her two of our Starbucks gift cards. This woman was overwhelmed to tears, and generously thanked us for our kindness.
During our New Orleans stay, we endured through a full day of pouring rain that refused to cease. Not wanting to miss one minute of exploring the city, we bought 6 umbrellas and headed out into the storm. One of the girls on our trip bought two cups of coffee and handed them out to people who were cold and wet on the street. We gave one cup to a man in a wheelchair who was missing both of his legs; he was extremely thankful, but asked if we had any sugar. My friend ran all the way back to the hotel in the rain to get this man a packet of sugar.
After walking in the pouring rain for two hours wearing nothing that was remotely close to being waterproof, you can assume we all started to complain. This experience was completely eye-opening to me. We continued to whine, trudging through the flooded streets in shoes that were filled with water. It was then I noticed how many homeless people were stranded on the streets with nothing more than a thin shirt and sandals. How can we complain about having soggy shoes when we have a warm house to go home to?
For my three blank letters, I wrote encouraging words God placed on my heart as well as several Bible verses. Throughout the trip, I handed out two of my letters to people on the street who I was instantly drawn to. On the last day in New Orleans, I was getting nervous I wouldn’t find a person to give my last letter to.
God is intentional!
On our final day, the group and I decided we wanted to spend some time with the elderly at an old folks home helping them play bingo. We rode a trolley there, considering it was on the other end of town. As soon as I boarded the trolley, my eyes were drawn to the back. There was an older woman sitting alone, looking very distressed. I had no idea why, but I knew that she was the one I was supposed to give my last letter to. I worked up my nerve and walked over to hand her the letter. She opened the letter, and I was blessed to see her smile growing as she finished reading. She looked up at me, with tears in her eyes, and mouthed “thank you.” I cannot explain to you how my heart felt at this moment. When she got off the trolley, she came over to me and asked for a hug. She embraced me and told me that I was truly a gift from God. She thanked me profusely and told me that she prays God will continue to use me for His glory. It was me who was brought to tears this time.
This trip has taught me more than I could have ever hoped for. I learned that it doesn’t take giant acts to make a difference. In fact, the smallest acts of compassion and love for God can make the biggest impact. It’s writing a post-it note reminding someone they are loved. It’s buying someone coffee when they’re having a rough day and it’s running in the pouring rain to give someone a packet of sugar. I don’t have to be across the country, winning hearts for Christ; I can just be intentional in living for God and reminding His children that they are loved. God showed me how blessed I am to live this life that I do, and how to reach out to others who don’t understand there is someone out there that loves them radically and endlessly.
I hope you have learned something out of reading this. I hope that today you cultivate kindness with Jesus. Tell a stranger that they are loved. Remind someone that life is precious and it is a gift that we definitely don’t deserve. Make God proud today. Because you never know,
A chain reaction of kindness could start with YOU.