Archive for May 2015

Unusual Kindness   Leave a comment

Last Sunday Pastor was talking about the passage where Paul is shipwrecked, and everyone ends up safely on the island of Malta and the people living there showed them “unusual kindness” (I think that is NLT).  He asked us if we had known (or shown) unusual kindness, and it took me right back to Russia in 2002.

I was on a missions trip, visiting orphanages and old folks homes.  Our group split into two for the weekend, and I went with the group who made the long trip north of where we were staying to the twin cities of Gubaha and Berizniki.  When we got there we went to a handicapped orphanage in Gubaha.  This was a huge orphanage – I think it was 5 stories high and had probably 1,000 kids there.  The place where everyone gathered to hear us was crowded, and I finally persuaded a child to sit on my lap. He shuffled over to me, barely able to walk and stay upright, and I hoisted him onto my lap and we enjoyed the program.

As soon as he sat down it was obvious he had soiled his pants.  It was all soaking into the jeans I was wearing, but I didn’t care.  He was so happy!  He kept smiling and leaning back and putting his hand on my cheek.  He didn’t understand me, but I prayed for him and told him what a precious child of God he was.  We knew we would be staying overnight in Berizniki so we had packed for it – I had brought a change of socks and underwear and a shirt.  But I only had the one pair of pants.

Afterwards we went through each floor, hugging, playing, and interacting with the kids.  In the infant floor we picked up babies who were stiff and unresponsive because no one had the time to hold them and they didn’t know how to react.  Many of them wore urine soaked clothing and my shirt got soaked with it.

By the time we made our way back to where we were staying — I didn’t smell very good.  I knew that I would have to rinse out my pants.  I was already ripe — there was no way I could go another 24+ hours wearing those jeans without cleaning them.  I explained to our translator.  She told me that the apartment where we were staying, home to Victor and Luba, did not have a washing machine or dryer.  I assured her it was ok, I understood, but I needed to be shown how to use the bathtub and where some soap was.  I would hang up my jeans and wear them wet the next day if I had to.

She explained to Luba.  Her husband Victor was the pastor of the church in Berizniki, a large church. He was away on a seminar, but Luba had already shown us her wonderful hostess skills.  Silently, she listened to what the translator said, and then she looked at me and held out her hands. Now, by this time it was after 11:00 at night.  We were all tired, and Luba had had hostessing duties on top of everything else that day.  I did NOT want her to wash my jeans.

I insisted I could do it, I didn’t mind, I just needed to be shown where things were.  Without a word she kept her hands held out, gazing at me steadily.  I knew I had to give over my jeans.  I had to let her wash them.

When we got up in the morning, here came Luba in our room, smiling, holding her arms out with my jeans folded neatly on her hands.  I thanked her profusely (I could at least say that in Russian).  You have probably worn jeans that were not dry all the way.  Maybe you were in a hurry and didn’t let them dry all the way, or just didn’t notice they were not all the way dry.  The seams, where they are thick, and especially the crotch where the seams come together, hold the moisture more than the other parts.  They are uncomfortable to wear when they are wet.  I had fully expected to be wearing wet jeans all day.

Not only were the jeans dry and smelled terrific — there was not a speck of wet on them. I could not feel any moisture in any seam anywhere.  They felt brand new!

I have no doubt that not only did Luba carefully clean them, but she also ironed them dry. Have you ever done that?  Do you know how long it takes?  How long do you think it would take you if you didn’t have an electric iron?  I don’t know for sure if she had an electric iron, but chances are high she did not.  Chances are high she had one of those manual irons, where you put the bottom iron part in the oven to get it hot, then grabbed it with the tongs or top grippers and ironed until it cooled, where you then had to put it back in the oven to get hot again.  It must have taken hours.

It was an unusual kindness shown to me when I really, really needed it.  It was a huge blessing, and I have never forgotten it.  What kind of unusual kindness can you show to someone?

Posted May 5, 2015 by Maureen in Memories, Stories

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