Friday, July 23, 2010

The Power of Kindness

While we're on vacation, here are a few things from the archives.

First, some pictures from months ago that show a blessed time of kindness between brothers: Josiah squished between David and Tobin, reading to them.
Although I don't remember the details of this particular morning, I do remember feeling stressed. The peace that came from Josiah's kindness was precious to me.

And second, here's something I wrote some years ago about an event that comes back to mind whenever I think about the power of kindness. Sometimes even small things that we do make such a big difference to those around us. Maybe we know those people, maybe we don't--but reading back through this reminds me to be more careful of my interactions with those around me--and that's good advice when I'm away from home on vacation.

On June 27, 2004, Jeff, Josiah, and I were on our way back to Israel after a Middle East conference in Istanbul, Turkey. We happened to be flying out of Turkey on the same day President Bush was flying into Turkey for a NATO conference. We had been warned to get to the airport very early to allow for extra time for security, so after we checked out of our hotel at 2:30 pm, we headed for the airport and decided to wait there for our 9:45 pm flight. Our taxi driver knew how to avoid the roads that were blocked off for the president’s arrival, and we made it to the airport in good time. When we arrived at the airport, we went through the preliminary security rather quickly and ended up having HOURS to wait with nothing to do. We were told that we couldn't actually check into our flight until 2 hours before its departure, so we got some food and relaxed as best as we could while entertaining Josiah!

A little after 7:00 pm, we decided to go to the ticket area and try to check in; but on the way, we stopped at the information desk and were told that our flight (on El Al Airlines) had been cancelled…that there were no more El Al flights to Israel that night…and that there would not be anyone in the El Al office in that airport until 9:00 am the next morning! What to do? We didn’t relish the idea of spending the night in the airport, nor did we want to catch a taxi and spend a lot of money to get a hotel room for the night. Jeff ended up calling our travel agent in Israel and asking advice from her about the situation.

Meanwhile, Josiah was having fun walking…and walking…and walking all over the airport. We wanted him to get his energy out, and he certainly didn’t want to be confined in the stroller! So he would walk back and forth, and I would follow him around. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that several of the ticket agents who were sitting behind the counter were watching us, but that wasn’t unusual—people thought Josiah was pretty cute, and he definitely stood out with his light hair and skin. All was well, until… Josiah tripped and fell flat on his face. I rushed to pick him up, and he cried and buried his head in my shoulder. I wanted him to show me his face so I could see if he was hurt; and when he lifted his head off my shoulder, I saw blood streaming down his face. I hurried over to where Jeff was, and his face registered his alarm as soon as he saw the blood. As it turned out, Josiah had simply bitten his lip so there was no permanent damage—just a lot of blood!

The heartwarming part of the story is what happened next. One of the ticket agents (who, I’m sure, realized what was going on when they heard Josiah’s cry and saw the blood) immediately hurried over to us, carrying a cup of water and some paper towels to clean up the blood. We gratefully said our thanks, and he left. We got Josiah cleaned up and calmed down; and a few minutes later, the man returned—this time, with a small candy for Josiah (which, by the way, was the first piece of hard candy that Josiah has ever eaten…I bit off little pieces for him and let him suck on them, and he really enjoyed it!). It meant so much to us that a stranger, who had no obligation to us, would respond so quickly and so caringly in our moment of distress.

To end the story, we were finally told that we could fly on the Turkish Airways flight to Tel Aviv that night. It was scheduled to leave a few minutes before midnight, but in the end, it was delayed so we didn’t leave Istanbul until after 1:00 am. When we finally reached Israel, we were so grateful to be home again—and Josiah was happy to sleep in his own bed!

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